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Thu Jan 15, 2015, 10:25 AM

Colombian farmers' court case against BP nears verdict

Colombian farmers' court case against BP nears verdict

After seven years, UK high court is due to decide whether BP is responsible for £18m in lost production to Colombian farmers, who claim a pipeline caused severe environmental damage to their lands

John Vidal

Thursday 15 January 2015 06.27 EST

A UK high court will shortly decide whether British oil giant BP was responsible for serious environmental damage in Colombia when a pipeline was laid across the land of over 100 small farmers.

The Ocensa pipeline, which takes 650,000 barrels of crude a day from the giant Cusiana-Cupiagua oilfield in central Colombia to the country’s Caribbean coast, was buried up to 1.8 metres deep along its 828km length in the mid-1990s. But the farmers say that the work done was unsatisfactory and the design was at fault. Working with London law firm Leigh Day, they are suing BP for around £18m in lost production.

The “campesinos”, or subsistence farmers, claim that their streams and water sources were blocked, leading to uncontrolled erosion, the creation of marshy areas and a loss of much of their income when BP Exploration (Colombia) Ltd managed the pipeline’s construction . In 2011, the company was acquired by Ecopetrol and Talisman Energy and renamed Equión Energia. BP strongly rejects the allegations.

The “David and Goliath” trial, which follows seven years of legal arguments, opened in October and has concentrated on the damage allegedly done to four small farms.


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