Press release and invite

Big Oil Caught in Civil Society Spotlight!

22 September 2005 - As the bosses of big oil gather in South Africa for the 18th World Petroleum Conference [1], concerned citizens and activists around the world unite to condemn the oil industry.

At every point in the fossil fuel production chain, where the bosses 'add value' and make profit, ordinary people, workers and their environments are assaulted and impoverished. Where oil is drilled, pumped, processed and used, in Africa as elsewhere, ecological systems have been trashed, peoples' livelihoods have been destroyed and their democratic aspirations and their rights and cultures trampled.

groundWork [2] together with civil society organisations from South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Angola, the USA, Chad, Burma, The Netherlands gather on:

Friday Evening 23rd and Saturday, 24 September 2005, at the Cedar Park Hotel, 120 Western Service Road, Woodmead, Sandton, from 09:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs,

where discussions will be held to understand the link between global poverty, war, illegitimate government, climate change and the oil industry [3 – Agenda and Directions], at groundWork Anti-Oil gathering.

The groundWork Report 2005 – “Whose energy future? Big oil against people in Africa!” will be launched at the gathering. The report unpacks the role of big oil in Africa, looking at how communities suffer human rights abuses and environmental injustices as a result of the power nexus between oil and government.


“The small elite, in business and in governments whose prosperity and power depends on the profits of the oil industry, does not speak for those who are made poor by this industry. The elite who get together – without attracting to much attention – at this World Petroleum Conference cannot claim that the energy future they will plot is an energy future for our world and its peoples. Their energy future is modelled on the interests of over-consuming, energy-intensive, fossil-fuel-burning wealthy classes whose reckless and selfish lifestyles not only impoverish others but threaten the global environment, imposing on all of us the chaos and uncertainty of climate change and the violence and destruction of war” warns Mark Butler and David Hallowes, authors of the report.

Nnimmo Bassey, of the Nigerian organisation Environmental Rights Action who will talk about Shell and the Delta at the Anti-Oil Gathering remembers Ken Saro-Wiwa, Dr. Barinem Kiobel, Saturday Dorbee, Paul Levura, Nordu Eawo, Felix Nuate, Daniel Gboko, John Kpuine and Baribor Bera: executed ten years ago by the Nigerian state for their activism against the injustices of this industry.

The report’s [4] conclusions have to date been endorsed by more than 200 individuals and organisations from 45 different countries. http://www.foei.org/cyberaction/groundwork.php

For more information call:
Bobby Peek – 033 342 5662 / 082 464 1383
Footnotes:

[1] The 18th World Petroleum Conference will be held in Sandton from the 25-29 September.

[2] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working focusing on air pollution, waste and corporate abuse and works with community organisations living adjacent to petro-chemical facilities in south Durban, Sasolburg, Secunda and Cape Town. (www.groundwork.org.za)

[3] “Another energy future is necessary”

On the eve of the 18th 'World Petroleum Conference' to be held in Sandton (September 25-29th), which brings together all the big players in the oil industry, groundWork is hosting a civil society forum to show the world the true face of big oil.

The event will publicise a sign-on statement condemning the oil industry on all sorts of fronts, and marks the launch of "The groundWork Report 2005" which focuses on oil in Africa and locates it in the global context. The report and the statement implicate the oil industry not only in ecological wars conducted against the poor in Africa but also fundamentally in the geo-military-politics of the global capitalist order.

groundWork invites you to participate in the forum discussions:

Dates: Friday Evening 23rd and Saturday, 24th September 2005
Venue: The Cedar Park Hotel
120 Western Service Rd
Woodmead
Sandton

Tel: +27 (0)11 804 3777
Fax +27 (0)11 802 1004

Agenda

Friday, September 23, 2005

19:00 hrs – 21:00 hrs: “Braai, Dinner, Barbeque”

Siziwe Khanyile and Bobby Peek – groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa
Welcome and Introductions: Informal over Dinner
“The oil industry in South Africa – injustices from the fence lines

groundWork, Friends of the Earth, South Africa is an environmental justice organisation working with community people living next to big oil facilities in South Africa. groundWork also has a Waste and Corporate campaign and Corporate Accountability Campaign.


Sat, September 24 Panels

9:00 hrs to 10:15 hrs
Noble Wadzah – Friends of the Earth, Ghana.
“West African Gas Pipeline Treaty - undermining the national sovereignty of Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria and the right to seek alternative energy options”

Foe Ghana is a civil society organisation working with local communities in Ghana resisting neo-liberal policies that threaten people’s local livelihoods in Ghana.

Nnimmo Bassey – Environmental Rights Action.
“Shell’s 30 years of broken promises – Gas flaring in the Delta”

ERA is a civil society organisation working with local communities in Nigeria resisting and challenging the ravages of oil in Nigeria.

10:15 hrs to 10:45 hrs Tea

10:45 hrs to 11:15 hrs
Launch of The groundWork Report 2005: Whose energy future? Big oil against people in Africa!
11:15 hrs to 12:30 hrs
Salim Vally
“Oil, Iraq and the US Empire”

Salim Vally is with the Anti-War Coalition in Johannesburg and is a senior researcher at Education Policy Unit at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Patrick Bond – Centre for Civil Society
“How oil companies skirt their CO2 responsibilities: Carbon trading and the commodification of the air”

Patrick Bond directs the Centre for Civil Society at the Kwa Zulu-Natal University.

12:30 hrs to 13:45 hrs Lunch
13:45 hrs to 15:00 hrs
Richard Spoor - Ntuli, Noble and Spoor Attorneys
“Big oil and killing of labour”

Richard Spoor is a lawyer who has been working with labour to hold industry accountable for worker deaths and injuries due to their poor health and safety practises in their push for higher profits.

Graham Bailey – Free Burma Campaign
"The Real Axis of Ev (o) il"

Graham Bailey is a human rights activist working with the Free Burma Campaign in South Africa and internationally.

15:00 hrs to 15:15 hrs Short tea break
Abias Huongo – Juventude Ecológica Angolana (JEA)
“Oil in Angola – the challenge within Cabinda.”

JEA is an environmental justice youth organisation based in the Cabinda province in Northern Angola, which is separated from Angola by a strip of the Democratic Republic of Congo. JEA has been instrumental in mobilising people in the area against the injustices of oil industry.

Maurício Sulila – Livaningo
“Mozambique’s energy future?”

Livaningo was launched in 1998, and was Mozambique’s first environmental justice organisation. Livaningo is part of Oilwatch Africa and monitors Sasol’s gas extraction operations with local communities in Mozambique.

16:30 hrs – 16:45 hrs
Closing comments – Bobby Peek, groundWork
Directions

From Johannesburg
Take the M1 direction North towards Pretoria.
Take the Woodmead off-ramp
Give way left onto the R 55 towards Kyalami.
Turn left at first set of traffic lights into Woodlands Drive
Turn Left at first set of traffic lights into Western Service Road
1.2 km/s along Western Service Road. The hotel is on the right hand side entering directly off the main road

From Johannesburg International Airport
Take the R24 direction towards Johannesburg
At Gilloolys interchange take N3 North Direction towards Pretoria
Pass Linksfield, London and Marlboro off-ramps
At Buccleuch Interchange take M1 Direction to Johannesburg
Take the Woodmead off-ramp
Turn right at traffic lights into R55 towards Kyalami
Turn left at first set of traffic lights into Woodlands Drive
Turn Left at first set of traffic lights into Western Service Road
1.2 km/s along Western Service Road. The hotel is on the right hand side entering directly off the main road

From Roodepoort
Take N1 direction North toward Johannesburg/ Sandton
Pass William Nicol and Rivonia Road off –ramps
At Bucceleuch interchange take M1 South towards Johannesburg
Take the Woodmead off-ramp
Turn Right at the traffic lights into R55 towards Kyalami
Turn left at first set of traffic lights into Woodlands Drive
Turn Left at first set of traffic lights into Western Service Road
1.2 km/s along Western Service Road. The hotel is on the right hand side entering directly off the main road

[4] For electronic copies of report, please call Bobby Peek (082 4641383).