Total Determined to Drill Amazon Basin as Greenpeace Storms AGM

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A Greenpeace activist shows her oil-covered hand during a demonstration outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total's annual shareholders meeting in Paris
A Greenpeace activist shows her oil-covered hand during a demonstration outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total's annual shareholders meeting in protest against the French oil and gas major's quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
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By Bate Felix
PARIS (Reuters)

Total is determined to push ahead with its plans to drill for oil in the Amazon basin, it said on Friday as Greenpeace activists interrupted its annual general meeting in protest at the project

The French oil major wants to explore Brazil’s Foz do Amazonas basin, but Brazil’s environmental agency rejected its licence application on Tuesday for a fourth time.

As the company’s annual general meeting opened in Paris on Friday, four activists from Greenpeace descended by rope from the ceiling above the stage, unfurling banners reading “Let’s save the Amazon’s coral reef”.

 

A Greenpeace activist pour oil on her hand during a demonstration outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total's annual shareholders meeting in Paris
A Greenpeace activist pours oil on her hand during a demonstration outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total’s annual shareholders meeting in protest against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 

At least a dozen others managed to enter the hall, with some chaining themselves to fixtures in the room.

Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne told the meeting he would not cede to any kind of blackmail over the project, as the activists dangled on ropes above him.

 

A French policeman stands in front of Greenpeace activists outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total's annual shareholders meeting in Paris
A French policeman stands in front of Greenpeace activists outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total’s annual shareholders meeting in protest against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 

“Our position on the Amazon project has not been abandoned. We have our rights and we have obviously to respect Brazilian laws,” Pouyanne told shareholders.

“It is also clear that Brazil’s environmental regulators are under immense pressure from other organisations. We are exchanging information with them.”

 

A Greenpeace activist shows his oil-covered hand in front of the Brazilian flag during a demonstration outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total's annual shareholders meeting in Paris
A Greenpeace activist shows his oil-covered hand in front of the Brazilian flag during a demonstration outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total’s annual shareholders meeting in protest against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 

Brazil’s Foz do Amazonas basin could contain up to 14 billion barrels of oil, geologists estimate, or more than the entire proven reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

MASSIVE CORAL REEF

A Greenpeace expedition in April documented coral in the area where Total plans to drill, after an earlier discovery of a massive coral reef nearby.

 

Greenpeace activists demonstrate outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total's annual shareholders meeting in Paris
Greenpeace activists demonstrate outside the Palais des Congres after they disrupted Total’s annual shareholders meeting in protest against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

 

“Total refuses to listen to reason and persists in wanting to drill near this unique reef, at the risk of destroying it,” Francois Chartier, head of Greenpeace’s Oceans campaign, said in a statement.

Brazil’s environmental agency requested more information from the company when it rejected its bid for an environmental licence on Tuesday.

 

Greenpeace activists protest during Total's annual shareholders meeting, against the French oil and gas major's quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris
Greenpeace activists protest during Total’s annual shareholders meeting, against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. Guenole Le Gal/Greenpeace/ANV-COP 21/Handout via REUTERS

 

The Greenpeace activists were also protesting at Total’s investment in offshore oil production blocks in French Guyana, which will boost its presence in the potentially lucrative Guyana basin.

Total faces more protests this month, after France’s largest farmers’ union called for a blockade of French oil refineries in protest at the company’s decision to use imported palm oil at a new biofuel production site.

 

(Reporting by Bate Felix; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Evans and Susan Fenton)

 

 

Greenpeace activists protest during Total's annual shareholders meeting, against the French oil and gas major's quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris
Greenpeace activists protest during Total’s annual shareholders meeting, against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. Nastasia Froloff /Greenpeace/ANV-COP 21/Handout via REUTERS

 

Greenpeace activists protest during Total's annual shareholders meeting, against the French oil and gas major's quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris
Greenpeace activists protest during Total’s annual shareholders meeting, against the French oil and gas major’s quest to the drill in the ecologically sensitive Amazon basin and French Guyana, in Paris, France, June 1, 2018. Guenole Le Gal/Greenpeace/ANV-COP 21/Handout via REUTERS
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