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April 13, 2011

Protesters Disrupt BP Annual Meeting

BP executives on Thursday faced protests from victims of last year's U.S. Gulf Coast oil spill and angry shareholders at their annual shareholder's meeting in London.

The meeting is taking place a few days before the one-year anniversary of the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and spewed oil into the waters of the Gulf Coast for 87 days.  The oil spill fouled hundreds of kilometers of beaches, killing fish and devastating wildlife.

Private security guards and British police blocked many of the protesting shareholders from attending the meeting.  Diane Wilson, a fourth-generation fisherwoman from Texas, who was locked out said she wanted to express the anger of Gulf Coast residents who she said had their lives and livelihoods destroyed.  

BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg described the time since the explosion and spill as a year of unprecedented crisis.  He remembered the men who died and their families,  and stressed the company's new focus on safety issues with a staff that must work hard to earn back trust.  He added that BP will not shy away from its responsibilities.

Other protesters criticized BP's compensation policies for victims of the disaster, claiming that they were denied or received insufficient payments.  The company is also facing shareholder anger over its generous remuneration proposals to top executives despite the Gulf Oil spill and resulting falling profits.

Members of first nation tribes in Alberta, Canada, demonstrated against BP's oil sands projects, which they say pollutes the air and water.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.