More than 250 Greenpeace activists hijacked Total’s annual shareholders’ meeting in Paris to protest at the oil company’s plans to drill in the mouth of the Amazon and French Guiana.
Four activists descended by ropes from the ceiling above the stage, as the Total chief executive, Patrick Pouyanné, began his presentation, with at least 20 more gaining access to the Palais des Congrès. Some of the activists chained themselves to fixtures in the hall with the proceedings disrupted by chants and the blowing of whistles. The remainder of the 250-strong group protested outside the venue.
Edina Ifticene, who was invited by Pouyanné to address the annual meeting to explain the protest, said direct action had been planned after Total ignored the activists last year.
“We have been campaigning for more than a year and a half,” she said, speaking to the Guardian. “Last year at the annual meeting we had a share [of stock] and so asked questions of the company and provided a lot of evidence and arguments. They said everything is fine and there is no ecological risk. This year we decided to take direct action, we want Total to listen to us.”
Total wants to explore Brazil’s Foz do Amazonas basin, which geologists estimate could contain up to 14bn barrels of oil, or more than the entire proven reserves in the Gulf of Mexico.
Brazil’s environmental agency rejected the company’s bid for a licence for the fourth time on Tuesday, requesting more information.
A Greenpeace expedition in April documented coral in the area where Total plans to drill, after an earlier discovery of a massive coral reef nearby.
Greenpeace also opposes Total’s investment in offshore oil production in French Guiana, which will boost its presence in the potentially lucrative area.
Total faces more protests this month, after France’s largest farmers’ union called for a blockade of refineries in protest at the company’s decision to use imported palm oil at a new biofuel production site.