A group of seventy three farmers from Colombia are claiming that BP’s negligent management of the Ocensa pipeline caused significant financial damage to their land and livelihood, according a report from Reuters. The farmers claim that the pipeline, constructed during the 1990s, dramatically harmed the production abilities of their land, and are suing for $28.93 million USD in damages.
The Ocensa pipeline was a project helmed by BP Exploration (Colombia) Limited (BPXC) as a partnership with both Colombia’s national oil industry and four other multi-national oil corporations, according to the Financial Times. The farmer’s suit claims that the pipeline’s construction caused severe erosion, hindered vegetation growth and obstructed critical water sources, causing severe harm to their crop output and livelihood. BP liquidated its involvement in BPXC in 2011, selling off all its assets in Colombia, resulting in the creation of Equion Energy Limited as the new entity managing the Ocensa pipeline.
Fresh on the heels of the September US federal court ruling that found BP “grossly negligent” for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill, the Financial Times reports that this new suit has the potential to be one of the largest environmental cases of recent years. BP is actively contesting the suit, claiming, “The Ocensa pipeline project in Colombia involved significant steps being taken at the time of construction to engage with local communities, make appropriate compensation payments and ensure that the land the pipeline traversed suffered no material damage.”