At BP’s AGM last week, a coalition of ethical investors forced a vote on whether the oil company should review its tar sands operations.
This followed BP's decision to acquire a 50 per cent stake in the Sunrise Project, a tar sands extraction project near Alberta and has entered into talks to buy a major share of Canadian oil sands company Value Creation.
The oil sands in Canada are the largest reserve of petroleum in the world outside of Saudi Arabia with an estimated 1.7 to 2.5 trillion barrels of oil trapped in a mixture of sand, water and clay.
However, the energy needed to extract and process the oil results in greenhouse gas emissions per barrel three times those of conventional oil.
The spread of the tar sands exploration and production is also destroying forests and impacting on local wildlife and communities.
Despite only nine per cent of investors voting in favour, environmentalists believe it broke new ground in promoting ethical business practices.
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