The Ocensa Pipeline: Colombian Farmers Sue BP.
By admin October 31, 2014

Ocensa Pipeline


Over one hundred Colombian farmers are suing BP in the UK High Court for over $28 million, claiming that the British company Equion Energia (formerly BP Exploration (Colombia)) was negligent in the construction of the Ocensa oil pipeline in the 1990s. In 2006 a different group of Colombian farmers received an undisclosed amount of money from BP for damages caused by the same pipeline. However, this time BP has changed its strategy and chosen to fight the lawsuit in court, sending a clear message to others considering similar suits that they will face protracted and costly litigation battles.

The farmers declare that the pipeline has caused serious environmental damage and threatened their livelihoods as it has not only polluted vegetation and pasture areas, but degraded water quality and caused soil erosion. On the other hand BP argues that it has taken vigorous steps to compensate farmers for building the pipeline on their private land, ensuring high standards so no harm was caused.

This hearing comes after Chevron was charged a whopping $9.5 billion in damages in Ecuador (although overturned), and a Louisiana federal court ruled that BP was ‘grossly negligent’ in its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, facing up to $17.6bn in fines.

The Colombian farmers are being represented by the same firm that is representing Nigeria’s Bodo community in their litigation against Royal Dutch Shell. A lawyer for the Colombian farmers, Shubhaa Srinivasan said “we feel it is really important that big companies are held to account for the way in which they undertake their activities abroad — especially when those activities take place in remote corners of faraway places, out of the public gaze.”

The four month trial is a rare case and is the first time BP has faced a domestic court over its overseas actions. This hearing comes at a time when extraterritorial claims for victims of alleged human rights abuses have been shrinking, according to the director of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. If successful this case could open the door to other similar cases by other communities in the developing world who claim to have been harmed by other oil pipelines.


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Thanks for sharing !

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