Image courtesy of Ocensa.

A group of Colombian farmers is seeking $28.93 million from BP for alleged negligence during pipeline construction that the group claims severely damaged their lands.

A group of 73 farmers claim that construction of BP’s Ocensa oil pipeline during the mid-1990s interrupted vital water supplies, hurt vegetation coverage and caused severe soil erosion on their farms, the Financial Times said.

The construction was undertaken by UK-based Equion Energia, formerly known as BP Exploration Colombia.

The lawsuit claims that because BP was in charge of managing and constructing the project it is liable for the damages to the farmers’ lands.

Prior to the pipeline’s construction BP also entered into deals with the farmers to run the pipeline through their privately held lands.

BP sold its stake in Ocensa to Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol and Calgary-based Talisman in 2009 for $1.9 billion.

The 523 mile long pipeline runs from the Cupiagua and Cusiana fields in the Llanos basin to the port of Coveñas on Colombia’s eastern coast.

The pipeline has a capacity of 560,000 barrels per day, or about 60 percent of Colombia’s total oil production.

BP said it is confident that it properly handled the management and construction of the pipeline.

“The OCENSA pipeline project involved significant steps being taken at the time of construction to engage with local communities, make appropriate compensation payments and ensure that the land that the pipeline traversed suffered no material damage,” BP said.

Some members of the group will travel to London to offer evidence for the case.

The farmers are represented by UK-based law firm Leigh Day.


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