BP Accused of 'Side-Stepping' Russian Sanctions
By Andy Rowell
A new expose published Monday reveals how BP, working closely with the British government, has been "side-stepping" sanctions introduced after the Russian annexation of Crimea.
The expose is based on documents, obtained under British Freedom of Information laws, which have been obtained by the campaign organization, Culture Unstained, part of the ArtNotOil Coalition, which campaigns to kick fossil fuel money out of the arts. The campaign group is particularly critical of BP's ongoing sponsorship of the British Museum in the UK.
The documents reveal what Culture Unstained calls the "close working relationship between UK government and BP over Russia" despite the fact that the material "suggests that BP is attempting to bypass sanctions preventing shale drilling in Russia."
The British Government's hypocrisy is evident in the fact that despite taking a strong public line on Russia, the UK government has been helping BP water down U.S. sanctions and hosting events to boost UK ties with Russian oil and gas sector.
Over a period of several months, the documents outline how BP had numerous meetings with British government ministers and embassy staff, with British Ministers repeatedly offering support for BP's business in Russia.
For example, in February 2017, the British Embassy in Russia hosted a Seminar on Vocation and Professional Education in the Oil and Gas Sector. It was designed to strengthen collaboration on "UK and Russia education companies, schools and universities in one of the key industries—oil and gas." The president of BP Russia, David Campbell, gave the opening remarks at the event.
Two months later, the Department for International Trade hosted a workshop on "How to break into the Russian Oil & Gas Sector." It highlighted that "maintaining oil & gas production requires large scale use of new technologies, which largely are not restricted by sanctions, and offered 'presentations by legal advisors about sanctions.'"
Meanwhile, in June 2017, when new U.S. Sanctions on Russia were being proposed, BP and other oil companies started mobilizing against the U.S. bill. Within days, the British Embassy in Russia emailed BP to discuss "what this could mean for UK interests." Of particular concern was BP's 19.75 percent stake in Russian state oil company, Rosneft.
That same month, in a meeting with the British trade minister, Greg Hands, in June 2017, the documents suggest BP appears to have been attempting to work around sanctions to gain approval for an unconventional shale oil project.
BP was waiting for a license that "In the company's view … turns on the definition of shale." EU sanctions had aimed to prevent European companies helping Russian companies extract unconventional oil, by ruling out oil "located in shale formations by way of hydraulic fracturing."
Within months, according to Culture Unstained, BP's lobbying effort against U.S. sanctions "seems to have been successful."
On Aug. 2, BP CEO Bob Dudley told market analysts that the original draft of the sanctions bill had been full of "'very significant unintended consequences' but now the company was not "aware of any material adverse effect on our current income and investment in Russia or elsewhere, or our ability to work with Rosneft itself".
Chris Garrard, Co-director of Culture Unstained, argues that, "BP is turning massive profits in Russia by partnering with Rosneft, a company responsible for record numbers of oil spills, turning a blind eye to corruption and cozying up to Putin's notorious 'right-hand man.' But instead of holding BP to account, the UK government seems willing to help the company sidestep sanctions while the British Museum launders its brand."
Meanwhile yesterday afternoon, activists from the group, BP or not BP? dropped an eleven-metre floor-to-balcony banner refelcting the 2,727 oil spills caused by BP's Russian partner, Rosneft, in a single region in just one year in the British Museum.
Performers then showered thousands of paper "oil drops" from balcony in the iconic Great Court to protest against the final day of the BP-sponsored Scythians exhibition, held in partnership with the Russian State Hermitage Museum.
"BP is deeply embedded in this Russian oil giant, which is well-known as one of the most corrupt and polluting in the world," said Helen Glynn, who took part in the performance. "So why has the British Museum allowed BP to sponsor an exhibition of artefacts from the very regions and cultures that the company is putting at risk?"
"This week, the New York Mayor announced that the city is suing BP and four other oil companies for the climate change damage they have caused," she said. "The British Museum faces huge repetitional risks by continuing to promote and defend a company so toxic that one of the world's richest cities has now turned against it."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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