Cheryl Golek #6

 

Conoco-Phillips Environment Fact Sheet
The company

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
nicely). 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:


USA
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, 1999).

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 Post, 1997).

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, pa
leontological, 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" (Associated Press, SALT LAKE CITY, 1997).

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).

Ecuador
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).

Venezuela
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).

Indonesia
Another precious ecosystem that Conoco is currently seeking to explore for oil is Indonesia’s Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site (UNESCO, 1999).

Kazakhstan
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.

Conclusion
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


Added 12/17

Pick Your Poison


CONOCO
Conoco operates 4,958 stations in the United States and has $39 billion in sales annually.
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 groundwater.
Green initiatives: The company voluntarily committed in 1990 to building only double-hulled tankers, which help prevent oil spills in case of a collision.

PHILLIPS PETROLEUM
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 year.
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 appeal.'' 

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. 

http://www.acusafe.com/Newsletter/Stories/0101News-MonthlyIncidents.htm