Conoco-Phillips Environment Fact Sheet
Conoco used to be the fifth-largest U.S. based energy company and after
the merger with Phillips petroleum in 2001, Conoco-Phillips has become the
third-largest integrated U.S. energy company. On a global basis, it is the
sixth largest publicly held company based on hydrocarbon reserves and
production, and it is the fifth-largest global refiner.
Conoco-Phillips operates in more than 40 countries and is active in both
the upstream and downstream segments of the global petroleum industry,
including exploration, production, transportation, marketing and refining.
The company sells gasoline, diesel fuel and motor oils through 8,000
outlets in the U.S.A., Europe, Thailand and Malaysia (Conoco website).
Conoco-Phillips explores currently the Alboran Sea adjoining the Spanish
Costa del Sol for the presence of petrol. Spain awarded Conoco (before the
merger with Phillips Petroleum) exploration and extraction rights on 19th
of October 2001 (Ref: Real Decreto 1097).
Conoco- Phillips on safety and the environment
According to their website, Conoco-Phillips is proud of its commitment to
protecting people and the environment. "At Conoco, we believe in taking an
active role to benefit future generations. That's why we've set a goal of
eliminating workforce injuries. And, we strive to minimize the
environmental footprint of our operations." They also consider themselves
as being a model "for establishing open dialogue and involvement of
concerned groups in our planning process" (Conoco website).
A green mark is that Conoco voluntarily committed in 1990 to building only
double-hulled tankers, which help prevent oil spills in case of a
collision. A green mark for Phillips petroleum is that they were honored
in 1999 by the Texas Audubon Society for protecting bird populations and
restoring their habitats and by the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy for
helping preserve tall grass prairie (Sierra Club, 2003).
Conoco in real life: beyond PR
But if one briefly looks beyond their Internet site, demonstration
projects and glossy brochures, another image of Conoco-Phillips emerges,
that of an aggressive company looking for financial benefit at no matter
what the cost to the environment and the people. Holmes Hummel from
project underground - an American environmental NGO - resumes
Conoco-Phillips as follows: "They may be heavy on Public Relations, but
the executive they sent to represent the company at the Alaska Forum on
the Environment complained bitterly about environmental regulation that he
found inconvenient (to put it
Suffice it to say, they prefer to work without oversight and with no
accountability for spills, contamination, worker safety, or clean up"
(Personal communication). Some examples from around the globe indeed
confirm Mr. Hummel’s view on the company:
The corporation is a member of the US National Wetlands Coalition, a group
of anti-wetland business interests that advocates legislation that would
rescind protections offered to wetlands under the US Clean Water Act
(Social responsibility ranking, 2001). In 1999 Conoco had to pay, thanks
to this Clean Water Act a large fine related to a pipeline rupture on the
Flathead Indian reservation in Northwest Montana (US dep. of Justice,
In one of the largest settlements ever reached on environmental
contamination, Conoco paid over $20 million to settle a lawsuit filed by
neighbors to a Conoco refinery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. Conoco also paid
fines for violations of the Hazardous Waste laws for a refinery in
Louisiana (New York
Times, 1999). And the US Environmental Protection Agency charged the
company with 78 violations of hazardous waste laws in Colorado (Denver
Nature reserves or other sorts of protected areas do not stop Conoco’s
hunger for oil. The company drilled exploratory wells in the heart of the
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the State of Utah. This
Monument holds a combination of valuable archaeological, historical, paleontological,
geological, and biological resources. When environmentalists met with
representatives from Conoco and asked the corporation to work with them to
find suitable leases outside the National Monument, Conoco said "NO"
SALT LAKE CITY,
Conoco’s Partner, Phillips petroleum is (black) listed by the U.S.
National Response Center as the "suspected responsible party" in 942 oil
spills. A lethal explosion at Phillips’s Pasadena, Texas, chemical plant
killed 23 people and injured 130 in October 1989, resulting in fines of $4
million and 566 citations for "willful" violations from the Occupational
Safety and Health Administration. An explosion at the same plant in March
2000 killed one worker and injured 69, resulting in 50 allegations of
safety-standards violations and $2.5 million in fines. Phillips Petroleum
is also one of the "Dirty Four" oil companies seeking to drill in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (Sierra Club, 2003).
In 1987, Conoco began drilling in Ecuador's rainforest. Ecuadorians have
suffered major oil contamination ever since. The oil production has
threatened the existence of one of the most remote tribes of Indians in
Ecuador, the Huarani. Conoco, as one of the oil companies educating the
Huarani, has worked hand-in-hand with evangelical missionaries to
indoctrinate the Huarani to strip them of their culture and to pacify
them. In an effort to use the Huarani's land to extort oil, Conoco
attempted to persuade the tribe to leave their land. A Huarani leader
remarked in response to these actions: "the oil company was trying to wipe
out the entire Huarani culture for enough oil to keep the United States
going for only thirteen days" (earth rights, 2003).
The Orinoco delta in Venezuela - the last of the world’s great river
deltas with pristine ecosystems - is currently put under pressure by a
large Conoco oil-drilling project. Conoco will drill 500 wells and
construct 210 kilometres of pipeline to transport the oil to the nearest
city Jose. Through dredging, drilling and deforestation, Conoco's project
will devastate a unique ecosystem and indigenous people depending on
natural resources. The estuarine delta hosts a rich variety of mangrove
tree species, aquatic and terrestrial flowers and is providing habitat for
many threatened animal and plant species. Even if Conoco does apply the
"strictest environmental standards" that they supposedly have
"successfully used in other environmentally sensitive areas", the
likelihood of oil spills is still extremely high as the Orinoco delta
region is susceptible to earthquakes and tidal action that could break
pipeline and damage storage facilities (earth rights, 2003).
Another precious ecosystem that Conoco is currently seeking to explore for
oil is Indonesia’s Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site
In Kazakhstan, part of the former Soviet Union, Phillips Petroleum is
active in a large oil field as part of a consortium run by Chevron-Texaco.
Next to the field's pipelines and storage tanks a 11 meter slab of yellow
sulphur has formed impacting immediately on the health of workers and
people living around the operation. The sulphur is a by-product of
poisonous hydrogen sulphide gas found along with the oil that is pumped at
a place called Tengiz. The PR machine of the consortium denies any
long-term health risks from exposure to the sulphur. But an independent
expert, biologist Andrei Scheikin of the EcoBioMed Centre, a Kazak
non-governmental group that monitors public health and the environment
said: "Only an illiterate person or a soulless criminal can speak about
the harmlessness of huge
piles of dry sulphur at Tengiz" (project underground, 2001).
Costa del Sol, Spain
Conoco Phillips obtained oil exploration and extraction rights of 4
offshore "block’s" in front of major tourism centres on the Costa del Sol
in the south of Spain. Central government and Conoco both seem completely
insensitive to the impact the oil exploration business is likely to have
on the local economy. Tourism and oil exploration / extraction are two
activities that cannot co-exist in the same area.
Seismic surveys that were part of the
first stage of Conoco’s project might have already had a drastic impact on
fish and other marine species in the area. Scientific research show that
these surveys may affect fish migration, spawning or feeding patterns; or
render marine organisms as a whole more vulnerable (Engas, 1996; McCauley
2003). Other oil companies with higher environmental standards first
consult local stakeholders in order to determine the best possible time to
carry out seismic surveys. Factors like fish migration, reproduction,
fishing activity, presence of cetaceans and recreational activities are
taken into account (CEF consultants, 2001). Conoco never bothered to
establish such timetables.
The examples cited above demonstrate that Conoco-Phillips wants to exploit
any and all locations where a possibility exists to find oil, independent
of whether potential sites are located in ecologically sensitive or
economically incompatible areas. Their only real interest is in getting
the oil out of the soil. Their "open dialogue and involvement of concerned
groups in the planning process" is actually just a "one way street"
dialogue with the sole aim to convince opposing parties of the
harmlessness of their projects. Their definitions of communication and
dialogue mean in fact manipulation and monologue. But most importantly
Conoco-Phillips’s historical record demonstrates that accidents do happen,
and all too frequently, of which just one would be sufficient to shatter
the entire economy of the Costa del Sol.
http://www.mercuryin.es/milliontonneclu ... 0Sheet.htm
Pick Your Poison
Conoco operates 4,958 stations in the United States and has $39 billion in
Black marks: In 1997, Conoco received permission to drill in Utah’s Grand
Staircase–Escalante National Monument—but came up empty. It is currently
seeking to explore for oil in Indonesia’s Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO
world heritage site. The company is also active in Venezuela (see CITGO
entry for details). Conoco is a member of the National Wetlands Coalition,
a lobbying group that advocates opening wetlands to development and
supports legislation that would weaken the Clean Water Act.
Refining record: Environmental Defense evaluated four Conoco refineries,
all of which earned mid-grade rankings for pollution-prevention. In 1990,
Conoco paid $23 million to settle a lawsuit filed by residents of Ponca
City, Oklahoma, who claimed that a nearby refinery had polluted their
Green initiatives: The company voluntarily committed in 1990 to building
only double-hulled tankers, which help prevent oil spills in case of a
With 5,600 Phillips 66 outlets in the United States, Phillips Petroleum
has sales of $21 billion a year. In February 2001, Phillips agreed to
purchase Tosco in a merger that is expected to be completed late this
Black marks: The National Response Center has listed Phillips Petroleum
and Phillips 66 as the “suspected responsible party” in 942 oil spills,
542 of them in Texas alone. A lethal explosion at Phillips’s Pasadena,
Texas, chemical plant killed 23 people and injured 130 in October 1989,
resulting in fines of $4 million and 566 citations for “willful”
violations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An
explosion at the same plant in March 2000 killed one worker and injured
69, resulting in 50 allegations of safety-standards violations and $2.5
million in OSHA fines.
Phillips Petroleum is also one of the “Dirty Four” oil companies seeking
to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Refining record: Of the three Phillips refineries Environmental Defense
evaluated, one ranked in the bottom 20 percent.
Green initiatives: Phillips was honored in 1999 by the Texas Audubon
Society for protecting bird populations and restoring their habitats and
by the Oklahoma Nature Conservancy for helping preserve tallgrass prairie.
http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/200109 ... 0PETROLEUM
$118 Million Jury Award for 1999 Phillips Explosion;
Amount to be Slashed (December 18, 2000)
A Texas jury awarded $118 million to the widow of a worker who died in a
1999 Phillips Petroleum Co. explosion. However, due to state tort reform
on punitive damages, the final award will amount to only $11 - $12
million. The state law affects awards where the defendant was "negligent,"
but not if the defendant "knowingly" or "intentionally" caused the death.
Under the 1995 law, such damages are limited to twice the amount awarded
for actual monetary loss plus a maximum $750,000 award for other losses,
like mental anguish. State District Judge Sharolyn Wood told the jurors
how the law affected their decision after they delivered the verdict.
Phillips accepted responsibility for the original June 23,
1999 explosion that killed two workers, but litigated the case because
they felt the plaintiff's claimed excessive damages. In spite of the
greatly reduced amount, however, Phillips is appealing the reduced award.
According to a statement by Phillips, "We agree that the family deserves
to be compensated at a reasonable level. However, we believe this verdict
is excessive and in error, and accordingly, we intend to file an
400 Evacuate Following Conoco Gasoline Spill in Montana
(December 14, 2000)
One hundred worker were involved in the cleanup of an estimated 105,000
gallons of gasoline spilled from a Conoco storage tank. The flow was
stopped within 24 hours and according to a Conoco spokesman, all the fuel
was contained within a berm surrounding the tank. A fire suppression foam
was also sprayed on the spill to reduce the threat of fire or explosion.
There were no reports of serious injuries.