Warwick University calls on BP to open up archive on 'renewables'

Pressure increases to honour promise to allow access to what is believed to be decades of research into ‘green’ technologies

The University of Warwick has joined calls for BP to honour a promise made by its chairman to open up a company archive containing valuable research on renewable energy.

The pressure comes a week after the oil company faced a shareholder revolt over executive pay and days before it expected to report a first-quarter loss of $140m (£97m), compared with a $2.6bn profit in the same period of 2015.

Administrators at Warwick confirmed they were pressing BP to increase access to the archive which is believed to contain decades of valuable knowledge and insight into “green” power technologies.

“Decisions on access to that archive are made by BP but the university has undertaken to talk with BP about how they make those decisions and whether access can be widened,” said a spokesman for Warwick.

The BP archive is housed in the modern records centre on the university’s campus and BP chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, last year was challenged about why information of potential interest to scientists was kept locked away.

He denied this was the case, telling shareholders at last year’s annual general meeting: “Nothing is locked away. We share everything happily.”

But attempts by students from the Fossil Free Warwick campaign group to gain access to the information was rebuffed. The students then asked for meetings with university administrators to call on their help with BP.

BP declined to comment, but Clare Hymer from the Fossil Free Warwick said the fact that university management was in dialogue with the oil firm was a victory. “We see this as an important step in getting our university to sever all ties with BP and breaking the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry over public institutions more widely,” she said.

Oil companies such as BP and Shell are already under pressure from climate change campaigners to cut their ties with museums and art galleries. BP recently ended sponsorship deals with Tate and the Edinburgh international festival but claims this is because of financial cutbacks.

City analysts believe BP will unveil the $140m loss on the back of another big fall in oil prices which averaged $34 a barrel in the first three months of this year compared with $44 in the same quarter of 2015. BP made a profit of $196m in the last quarter of 2015.


Terry Macalister

The GuardianTramp

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