May 10, 2002

Campaigners from Friends of the Earth and The Burma Campaign UK went into today’s Premier Oil AGM to ask questions about the company’s collaboration with the Burmese military regime. But in what campaigners will cite as a clear indication of the company’s backwardness on corporate responsibility issues, regular shareholders complained about the number of questions being made on social, environmental and human rights matters.
One shareholder, Mr. Roland Shaw (the former Premier Oil chairman) urged the current Chair (Sir. David John) to stop taking questions on “peripheral issues” (such as human rights abuses in Burma and operations in a national park in Pakistan) and discuss “business issues” instead.
Craig Bennett of Friends of the Earth said:
“It’s astonishing that a company like Premier Oil can collaborate with a military regime like that in Burma and then act all surprised when the issue comes back to haunt them at their AGM.
And it is astonishing that shareholders see social, environmental and human rights issues as irrelevant to business performance. Perhaps Premier Oil’s failure to appreciate the importance of these issues helps explain why their share-price languishes at 24p when it was 50p a few years ago, and why the company has paid no dividend now for 7 years. Which right minded investor is going to want to invest in a company that’s performing badly in an social, environmental and economic sense?”
John Jackson of The Burma Campaign said:
“It’s not surprising that some Premier shareholders were uncomfortable listening to questions concerning the company’s support for Burma’s brutal military dictatorship. It may be of consolation to them that their discomfort is nothing compared to the thousands of Burmese who have suffered atrocious human rights abuses as a result of Premier’s pipeline”.

Related Posts