|LONDON - Environmental groups will propose a resolution at BP (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) \'s annual general meeting next month calling on the energy major to adopt new standards against drilling in protected and sensitive areas, the group leader said.|
The resolution, proposed by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG), will call on BP to examine the potential risks, both economic and to brand reputation, PIRG said in a release.
Two years ago, PIRG filed a similar resolution that was supported by 11 percent of BP shareholders. A BP spokesman said details of the April 15 AGM agenda would be sent to shareholders next week.
The resolution has been co-filed by an assembly of environmental, financial, and religious groups, along with more than 90 individual investors, PIRG said.
\"BP contends that it should be allowed to drill in sensitive areas because it has the ability to operate in a manner that will not harm these unique places,\" said PIRG representative Justin Tatham.
\"We disagree with that argument. The best way to preserve biodiversity and important protected areas is not by making a \'best practices\' gamble but to not operate there at all,\" he added.
PIRG said their primary concern was Alaska\'s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). \"The coastal plain is currently off limits to drilling, but BP has not publicly stated whether they would drill in the area if the U.S. Congress ever authorizes drilling there,\" PIRG said.
The Bush administration has said it still supports oil drilling in ANWR even though it was forced to omit the measure from its energy bill, which is still plodding through the U.S. Congress.
BP \'s Alaskan oil operations have faced criticism over its reporting of oil spills and its safety record. The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in December said it would fine BP $2.53 million after an oilfield explosion nearly killed a worker.
BP has said it is exiting the exploration business in Alaska and focusing on boosting flows from existing fields.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE