XR Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole
In March 2023, the independent oil company Perenco’s Wytch Farm plant caused toxic oil solutions to leak into Poole Harbour. XR Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole have since been organising protests against Perenco’s ecocidal activities locally and around the world.
This is the letter it delivered to Perenco’s chairman last month.
Dear François Perrodo,
What has your family’s oil and gas company Perenco done in Poole in the UK recently?
It has polluted Poole harbour, in particular the wilder west and south sides of it, part of the Purbeck heritage coast where rare bird species feed and breed. Fishing was banned for a time and the company paid damages to fishermen. The Extinction Rebellion group Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole organised three protests to demand the closure of the clapped-out Perenco site in Dorset to forestall further pollution.
We wrote to you asking you to close it down but received no reply.
Nearly 6 months later, in spite of the spill being qualified as ‘minor’, the government’s Environment Agency has still not published a full report on short and long term environmental impacts.
What has Perenco done in Africa?
For many years it has been pumping oil out of the ground and ocean near Moanda in the Democratic Republic of Congo DRC, close to a protected area – the Mangrove Marine Park. Local inhabitants remain poor in spite of the vast wealth exported by Perenco. There have been many instances of pollution, gas flaring and methane releases. The local people have had enough of Perenco and so a member of Extinction Rebellion, Goma DRC visited Moanda and a local group was formed. Their request is simply that they want no more oil in their area but Perenco is now bidding for additional sites to explore for oil.
In Gabon, Perenco took over old production sites belonging to Total. In addition to the habitual oil leaks from ageing installations, ground water pollution and dead fish, a massive 50,000 cubic metres of crude oil, or 300,000 barrels having leaked from a holding reservoir was reported in April 2022 at Cape Lopez.
Local Gabonese people are trying to hold Perenco to account through the justice system and suing for damages, but on 2 February 2023, Adrien Broche, Perenco’s local boss, was awarded the Gabonese National Order of Merit, in the presence of the French ambassador.
Since then, there has been a coup d’état in Gabon and, with the change in government, we can hope that the people will at last obtain justice from your company.
What has Perenco done in South America?
Near the border of Peru and Ecuador, oil concession Block 67 is exploited by Perenco-Peru, in the middle of the Amazon rainforest inhabited by remote Indian tribes who refuse contact with outside civilisation. Perenco is contesting the right of the Peruvian government to give protections to the native Indians.
But just the other side of the border there is reason for hope.
Recently in a national referendum, around six in ten Ecuadorians voted to stop production and exploration in oil concession Block 43. Alicia Cahuiya, the leader of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, said:
“The government cannot continue selling our territory and our rights to the oil companies. Our forest, shared with the Tagaeri and Taromenane, is our supermarket, hospital, pharmacy, hardware store and school; it is also our cemetery, our home. If they continue destroying it with their roads, wells, chainsaws and oil flares, they will kill us, too. The rainforest is our life, our home, and our ancestral land. It is the hope of future generations.”
Perenco has been wrangling legally with Ecuador over this oil concession in the Amazon for over a decade. It is time for the company to pull out, drop demands for compensation and respect the will of the Ecuadorian people.
Cesar 41, a physicist, lives in Pore, in the province of Casanare in the east of Colombia. He always wants to speak the truth, and continue defending ecosystems such as the La Morena natural reserve in San Luis de Palenque. This area, too, is under threat from Anglo-French oil company Perenco wanting to extract oil and gas. It is imperative that Perenco withdraw from Columbia and cease to prospect for oil and gas all over the world.
Groups such as Extinction Rebellion Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole, Oxford and London will continue monitoring and protesting against Perenco for ruthlessly exploiting poor people across the globe to fill bank accounts in tax havens.
We demand that Perenco halt further exploration for new sources of oil, run down its existing facilities, pay due compensation for environmental damage caused and ensure that its old installations are shut down correctly.
Environmentally and ecologically yours,
Extinction Rebellion Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Having identified several specific targets for actions like raw sewage releases into local rivers and seas, and the fossil fuel company Perenco, XR BCP has organised many actions and reached out to other organisations in the area. With others, the group is actively campaigning against an incinerator at Parley, fearing that the incentive to reduce, recycle, and selectively treat waste will be lost. Last month, a large group of XR activists from BCP, Oxford and London held a noisy protest outside Perenco’s London HQ. Follow-up plans are in the pipeline.
Call to action: We climate activists are up against the world’s economic systems. It’s a tough fight, but the tide is turning as the weather reports come in every day. Remember – every tenth of a degree we manage to avoid counts, just as every positive action we take counts.
So send your own letter of protest to Perenco’s chairman, Francois Perrodo, at 8 Hanover Square, London W1S 1HQ