BP is being prevented from selling fuel anywhere in central London this morning by Greenpeace activists who have shut down every petrol station in the capital and put up signs which say: "Closed. Moving beyond petroleum".
Later this morning BP is expected to announce the appointment of Bob Dudley as the company's new CEO. Greenpeace is urging Dudley, who once worked at BP's solar and wind business (1), to take the company in a new direction after his predecessor's obsession with high risk, environmentally reckless sources of oil.
50 stations have been immobilised by small teams which used a shut-off switch to stop the flow of fuel at each location. The switches were then safely removed and taken away to prevent the stations from re-opening.
At one station in Camden, North London, Greenpeace climbers have replaced BP's now infamous logo with a new version showing the green ‘sunflower' disappearing into a sea of oil (2).
Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven, who is outside the Camden station, said:
"The moment has come for BP to move beyond oil. Under Tony Hayward the company went backwards, squeezing the last drops of oil from places like the Gulf of Mexico, the tar sands of Canada and even the fragile Arctic wilderness.
"We've shut down all of BP's stations in London to give the new boss a chance to come up with a better plan. They're desperate for us to believe they're going ‘beyond petroleum'. Well now's the time to prove it."
This morning the board is also expected to announce record losses after setting aside around $25-30bn to pay for the massive clean up job and legal fees resulting from the huge spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Despite this, BP currently plans to extract oil from risky deepwater wells in the Arctic as well as from the ‘tar sands' of Canada . Extracting oil from the tar sands is around three times more damaging to the climate than drilling for regular crude (3), and a spill in the Arctic wilderness could have consequences even more devastating than the current disaster in the Gulf.
Industry analysts agree that Bob Dudley will come under intense pressure to outline a new strategy to revive the company's fortunes as the shareprice is currently 40% lower than before the explosion.
Greenpeace is urging Dudley to demonstrate early leadership by announcing that BP will pull out of a trio of planned tar sands projects in Alberta which are due to be developed next year, and massively scale up the company's investment in alternative energy.
Bob Dudley was formerly BP's group vice president for alternative energy and renewables. A company presentation delivered by Hayward in March this year shows that over the course of 2010, BP intended to invest US$19bn on its oil and gas business compared with less than $1bn on all alternative technologies combined - which includes spending on controversial biofuels, as well as all renewable technologies put together. (4)
"Forward thinking companies around the world have realised that fossil fuels are the past and clean energy is the future. It looks like Tony Hayward didn't get the memo.
"Now the board desperately needs a rethink. The age of oil is coming to an end and companies like BP will be left behind unless they begin to adapt now."
For more information, live interviews with the Executive Director of Greenpeace and video from the scene please contact the press office on 0207 865 8255
Greenpeace is calling for:
- An immediate ban on new offshore drilling and exploration of all high-risk unconventional oil sources (including in the Arctic and the Canadian tar sands)
- An end to fossil fuel subsidies and an increase in support for clean energy
- Strong laws and policies that limit greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate a clean energy revolution.
Greenpeace has written to the UK authorities asking whether they plan to launch an investigation into BP following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and other environmental breaches.
(2) The logo was designed as part of a Greenpeace competition which attracted over 2,500 entries and 2 million page views over a six week period. See www.greenpeace.org.uk/bp for more information.
(3) Alex D. Charpentier, Joule A. Bergerson, and Heather L. MacLean. Understanding the Canadian oil sands industry's greenhouse gas emissions, in Environmental Research Letters 1 (2009)