Protest at annual shareholder meeting
British oil giant Shell threatens to trigger greater conflict in Iraq with plans to control the development, production and depletion of Iraq’s oil reserves, campaigners warn today.
This warning, from the coalition Hands Off Iraqi Oil, comes as Shell holds its annual meeting amid growing resistance to the company’s bid to assume control over oil reserves.
The warning follows news that Shell plans to pay £3 million to directors to stay on the board for three years and the firm’s record £3.9bn earnings for the last quarter against the background of higher energy prices for pensioners, motorists and industry.
Protestors from the coalition, including War on Want, Platform, Voices UK and Iraq Occupation Focus, will demonstrate outside the annual meeting at the Barbican Centre in London, and put questions directly to the board of directors inside the meeting.
Shell is seeking a controlling stake in the Kirkuk oilfield, Iraq’s oldest and second largest producing field, and the site of deteriorating ethnic violence, as well as the Maysan field in the south of Iraq, and the Akkas gas field in Iraq’s Anbar province.
Campaigners warn that Iraq would lose billions of pounds in oil income under a proposed new law which the British and US governments are pressing the Baghdad administration to sign.
Iraqi trade unions say the law will allow oil companies, such as Shell and BP, to secure power over new oil fields for 25 years, with the country’s economy run by overseas firms.
Ruth Tanner, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: “Shell’s plans not only seek control over oil reserves against the wishes and interests of millions of Iraqis. They threaten to worsen conflict in a region which has already claimed many lives.”
Platform co-director Greg Muttitt said: “Shell’s rush to grab hold of Iraq’s resources, whilst the country is still occupied, is likely to bring greater bloodshed to Iraq. The lives and livelihoods of ordinary Iraqis are being further threatened because of corporate greed.”