Posts Tagged ‘oil’

Gentlemen o’ Fortune in London

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

Ahoy! Some years ago I let me younger son, then in his 30s, use me ‘puter while he was stayin’ wit’ us, ‘n afterwards found that he had changed t’ language on me Facebook t’ “Pirate”. It loot a wee while fer me t’ change it back ‘n certainly wasn’t made easier by havin’ all th’ menus ‘n explanations in ‘Pirate’.

Or to put that in English rather than blabberin’ on in Pirate;

Pirates in London

Some years ago I let my younger son, then in his 30s, use my computer while he was staying with us, and afterwards found that he had changed to language on my Facebook to “Pirate”. It took a little while for me to change it back and certainly wasn’t made easier by having all the menus and explanations in ‘Pirate’.

As you may know, though I didn’t afore now, there are several online English to Pirate translators should you ever for any reason (or unreason) wish to convey your thoughts in that medium. England’s fortune was of course largely plundered by pirates including such well-known names as Sir Walter Raleigh, though now instead of galleons our pirates sail in the plush offices of hedge funds often registered in those distant tax havens around which many of the older pirates sailed in search of vessels to board and rob – and in whose sands they may have buried a little of their stolen treasures. Arrhh Jim Lad!

But on Saturday 23 Feb 2008 I was with pirates in London, taking part in the ‘Hands off Iraqi Oil Piratical Action Tour of London’, part of an international campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people against the corporate theft of Iraq’s oil. The real pirates were of course the largely US oil companies busy profiteering in Iraq following the illegal US and UK invasion of that country.

Saddam was a dictator and committed many crimes, though producing weapons of mass destruction as the invaders claimed largely in contravention of the evidence of their spies, to justify their invasion was not one of them. Far more important but not stated was the fact that as long as he remained dictator, oil would remain a public sector industry in Iraq. So obviously, to further the interests of Shell, BP and other majors in the oil business and capitalism generally he had to be removed.

The pirate-themed protest included a number of protesters in pirate dress along with a samba band to make a great deal of noise and draw attention to the banners, posters and placards calling for corporate killers to get out of Iraq along with a small group with blacked faces in a large black sheet representing Iraqi crude.

The protest marched to the premised of various companies involved in the invasion or seeking to exploit Iraqi oil, stopping at them to speak about their activities and protest noisily. Before I met them some had gone inside the National Portrait Gallery to protest inside against BP sponsorship of their major awards.

The tour visited Erinys International Limited, a private military security company with a reputation for using excessive force which provides security services in Iraq as well as training Iraq’s Oil Protection force, BP whose former CEOs worked as advisors to the Iraqi Oil Ministry telling them let companies like BP come in a make vast profits and helping to draft new Iraqi hydorcarbon laws, and the International Tax and Investment Centre, which is paid by the big oil companies to lobby for a free-market approach which would let them dominate Iraqi oil.

Running late, the tour missed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, whose policies have largely been to run around in support of BP and Shell, employing former oil executives as advisers on economic policy in the Middle East. And Development Program Worldwide Ltd (previously Windrush Communications) has offices too far away in the City for the tour; it promotes the establishment of private capital enterprises in places such as conflict zones where there are few controls over their activities and no effective government to represent the public interest.

The pirates stormed up the Jubilee footbridge, crossing it to reach the Shell Centre for a longer rally to end the tour. Shell executives have played a leading role in the re-purposing of the Iraqi oil industry from a state asset to a multinational profit opportunity and plan for three major oil fields there.

More at Hands off Iraqi Oil Piratical Action Tour.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


British Museum and BP

Sunday, December 20th, 2020

Five years ago today on 20th December 2015 I went into the British Museum with “actor-vists” from ‘BP or not BP‘ to photograph their ‘A Farewell to Neil MacGregor – Director of the British Museum‘ who had enjoyed a “cosy relationship” with the museum’s sponsor, BP.

Fossil-fuel companies make their profits largely through the combustion of the hydrocarbons they produce in the engines of cars, lorries and aeroplanes and the boilers used to generate electricity and heat buildings and other processes which turn the carbon in these fuels into the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the main cause of the global warming which is currently threatening the future of human life.

As well as that, the prospecting and exploitation of oil resources, now more and more taking place in environmentally fragile areas such as the Arctic, together with spillages, some inevitable but others demonstrating a remarkable lack of care are causing terrible damage to our environment. And of course most of what doesn’t get burned is made into plastics and we are now becoming aware of the huge amounts of this that ends up in the marine environment with disastrous consequences.

While continuing to fuel the global crisis, companies such as BP have invested heavily in promoting themselves as good guys, publicising the relatively small investments they have been making in renewable energies and other green areas. It’s a short-sighted policy as their long-term future – and ours – depends on a complete move away from carbon fuels, but one which keeps current investors rich at the cost of the rest of us.

Almost certainly the most cost-effective part of the ‘green-washing’ of BP’s ecologically disastrous activities has been their sponsorship of many of our major cultural institutions including the British Museum, something which the cultural activists of ‘BP or not BP’ have highlighted in a number of artistic interventions. I was pleased to be able to photograph their play depicting ‘BP executives’ giving a farewell party to departing Museum director ‘Neil MacGregor’ inside the British Museum’s Great Court.

Although BP’s contribution is only a fraction of the museum’s budget, they get an engraved message on the wall of the rotunda in the Great Court and their logo prominently on the publicity for the museum’s major exhibitions which have included Vikings, Ming, Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, the Mexican Day of the Dead and Sunken Cities. As BP or Not BP point out, the last two are particularly unfortunate as BP has been given the largest corporate criminal fine in history of $18.7 billion for the underwater Deepwater Horizon oil spill which caused huge pollution of the ocean around the coast of Mexico.

My write-up on My London Diary gives a fairly full account of what happened with a lot more pictures. Many museum staff are unhappy about taking cash from BP and welcome the publicity protests like this give. The protesters assured the museum security that they would cause no damage and leave without any trouble after the relatively short performance which continued without any interruption and entertained a number of the visitors to the museum.

You can also read a fuller account, with some of my pictures and including the full text of the play on the on the BP or not BP website.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Defending the Indefensible

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

It just hadn’t occurred to me that there would be protesters defending Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, hereafter MbS, the man responsible for sending a team of assassins to kill and then dismember with bone saws the body of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd 2018.

Of course their state-sponsored posters and placards – including two large electronic screens strapped to two men didn’t mention the killing, nor MbS’s other purges, including the 2017 arrest of business leaders and other prominent Saudi figures in what he called an anti-corruption campaign, the kidnapping of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in 2017 and more – including recent arrests of yet more leading Saudi figures who he sees as possible rivals.

So when I first walked up to their noisy protest I misunderstood their reason for being there. I couldn’t of course understand what they were shouting, and it was only after I read the posters that I realised they had come to support MbS and not to protest against a cruel dictator.

Of course some of them may have had good personal reasons for supporting MbS. Saudi businessmen operating in the UK may well be profiting from his economic reforms and support his Vision 2030 for a Saudi Arabia that in some respects will modernise, largely in the interests of business. Some of those taking part will be working for the Saudi government and companies such as Saudi Aramco, supposedly the most profitable company in the world, though this position is perhaps under threat by MbS’s current oil war with Russia. And some may have been paid for their evening’s work.

Certainly if you are a Saudi citizen and have any intention of returning to that country in the future, being seen as a supporter of MbS rather than an opponent will be vital for your health – as the brutal Khashoggi murder testifies. You need to be seen (and filmed) to be on the right side.


Justice for Jamal Khashoggi

On the anniversary of Khashoggi’s death, a small group of protesters on the opposite side of the road stood in a quiet line in front of the Embassy garden holding posters, and later burning nightlights, in a silent vigil for the cruelly murdered journalist. It was a small but dignified and rather more impressive display than the PR event taking place opposite.


More on both events:
Saudis support killer Prince MBS
Justice For Jamal Khashoggi


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Bank refuses Venezuela its gold

Saturday, June 1st, 2019

It’s always difficult for photographers when events more or less repeat themselves, and this was the third protest I’d covered in just a few weeks about the US attempt to engineer a regime change in Venezuela, and the second outside the Bank of England, with many of the same people taking part, and it was all too easy to produce more or less the same images. As the great Yogi Berra said, ” It’s deja vu all over again”, though he also said ” I never said most of the things I said.”

Ken Livingstone was also a figure with a second coming, having run the Greater London Council and begun to bring the capital up to date in the 1980s, his success so enraged Margaret Thatcher that she abolished the council and sold off its palatial headquarters just downstream across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament.

Livingstone returned as elected mayor of the new Greater London Authority after 14 years in which London had largely stagnated, acheiving office despite determined opposition from Thatcher’s successor (following the brief interregnum of John Major), Tony Blair. Although Livingstone was the choice of Labour members and affiliates, the votes of Blairite MPs, MEPS and GLA candidates made Frank Dobson the Labour candidate, and Livingstone stood as an Independent. In the first round of voting he came out on top, with three times the vote of the official Labour candidate who was eliminated, and was elected in the second round with a vote of almost 58% .

Four years later, Livingstone was re-admitted to the Labour Party and re-elected as London’s Mayor. Despite two largely successful terms in office, he lost the 2008 mayoral election to Boris Johnson, who set out to establish himself as London’s worst mayor despite often rapturous media coverage.

Of course Livingstone was not the only speaker, but he was the major speaker at the event. He had been in the crowd at the previous protest outside the Bank of England, but this time he spoke, reminding us of his relationship with the former President of Venezuela and the contribution made by Venezuela to enable him to provide half-price bus fares for lone parents, sick and disabled Londoners. Recently after an earlier protest calling for the Bank of England to return Venezuela’s gold I wrote more on Livingstone with some pictures I’ve taken.

Stop Trump’s Venezuela gold & oil grab


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