| LONDON, April 12
LONDON, April 12 BP will run the gauntlet
of protests from environmentalists and investors alike at its
annual shareholder meeting on Thursday where it will make the
latest in a series of attempts to put the Gulf of Mexico oil
spill behind it.
Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and Chief Executive Bob Dudley
are likely to face some harsh questions from shareholders
frustrated at the group's continued weak share price, sceptical
about its turnaround prospects and unhappy about executive pay.
BP will also face protesters from the Gulf coast and from
representatives of environmental groups who are still angry
about the United States' worst ever offshore spill and
determined to dispel perceptions that the crisis is over.
"This isn't true," said Bryan Parras, an activist who is
travelling from Houston for the AGM. "Oil is still impacting our
communities, causing sickness, and triggering a collapse in fish
stocks and local livelihoods," he added.
The Gulf Coast protesters will be joined by representatives
of groups opposed to the exploitation of Canada's tar sands and,
most likely, by other environmental and human rights groups, all
of whose attendance usually makes the event a colourful affair.
The turnout of protesters always attracted to the oil
company's AGM could even be larger than usual because BP's
decision to become a major sponsor of the London Olympics has
enraged green groups.
Inside the venue, the Europe's second-largest oil producer
by market value could also face a shareholder revolt on
executive pay. Shareholder advisory group PIRC advised investors
to vote against the remuneration report, citing BP's failure to
disclose the targets used to rate bosses' performance.
Svanberg has replaced 80 percent of BP's non-executives
since his appointment in 2010 -- four months before the rig
blast that killed 11 men and led to 5 million barrels of crude
leaking into the Gulf.
The AGM will also see the standing down of Bill Castell, the
former head of BP's safety committee, whose reappointment was
opposed by 25 percent of investors last year.
Dudley, meanwhile, has put new faces in most of the top
BP is predicting strong growth in cashflow and has hinted at
further increases in the dividend, which was cut in the wake of
the rig blast, and which still stands well below pre-spill
However, analysts fear the disaster still hobbles the group
and will prevent it from growing as quickly as its rivals. Its
shares have lagged rivals so far this year, falling 2.8 percent,
against a 1.0 percent drop in the STOXX Europe 600 Oil and Gas
BP continues to face legal action in the United States where
the Department of Justice could saddle it with fines worth over
$20 billion unless it can cut a deal.