Friday, December 5, 2008

Santa Boycott's Total Oil at Marylebone Rd

On 3rd December 2008, Santa Claus assisted by some merry elves, boycotted the Total petrol station at Dorset House, 170-172 Marylebone Rd, London. French Total Oil had been very bad all year, funding the brutal military regime in Burma with approximately 500 million dollars a year. Many passing taxis, buses and other motorists beeped their support for the boycott.

Whilst French Total Oil had profited all year from high prices and the misery it caused in Burma and elsewhere, Santa hoped people would remember just how totally disgraceful a year it had been for Total:

In January a French court made French Total Oil pay a large share of €200 million in damages to civil parties for Europe's largest oil tanker disaster. The Erika tanker disaster suffocated hundreds of miles of Atlantic coastline killing or injuring 300,000 sea birds. The court said Total, the world's fourth largest oil group, had failed to take into account the age of the ship and deficiencies in its maintenance. This carelessness had a "causal role in the sinking and, as such, provoked the accident", the judge said.

In October Total Oil was found guilty of price fixing. The European Commission fined nine firms that had been fixing the price of paraffin between 1992 and 2005. French Total Oil was fined 128.1million euros (the 2nd largest fine of the firms involved).

In December Total Oil faced criminal charges over Buncefield, Europe's largest peacetime blaze and the UK's largest peacetime explosion. Total is facing three charges — failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees; failing to protect persons not in their employment; and causing pollution to ground water in the vicinity of the plant. In October Total finally gave up 3 years of ridiculous denial that they were only liable for damages within 451m of the explosion, putting residents through years of "unnecessary struggle". Ironically Total's partner in Buncefield is Chevron (known as Texaco in UK), the same partner as in Total's Burma Yadana gas pipeline. Chevron and Total are arguing over responsibility for Buncefield : "Chevron, which owns 40 per cent of Hertfordshire Oil Storage Ltd. claims that Total alone should be responsible for the damage claims, on the grounds that the French company controlled Buncefield's employees and day-to-day operating procedures. "Total proposes that the focal point of the current litigation should be to ensure that Chevron, its joint venture partner, properly faces up to its responsibilities,'' the company said."

The Burmese have long suffered from Total Denial, but let's hope Total doesn't manage to get away with it for much longer in the UK and the Buncefield victims get total satisfaction in 2009.