Petrol companies need to be transparent in New Zealand

It was mentioned today that the Government has summoned BP executives to the Beehive to explain why BP was planning what basically amounts to a horrendously misguided price fixing attempt around Levin. The announcement comes after an internal memo which has sparked outrage at BP was leaked to the media.

It also brings into the spotlight the corporate records of petroleum companies in this part of the world. There are a number of reasons why petroleum companies need to lift their game in New Zealand:

  1. Contrary to the view of many on the right – Judith Collins being a notable exception – New Zealanders have higher expectations of fuel companies than they are being given credit for
  2. New Zealand has a reputation to uphold as an environmentally and socially responsible country and it needs economic sectors to be on board, as all will suffer the downturn effects of any consequent slow down if we do not
  3. New Zealand law takes – or is expected to take – a dim view of price fixing such as that which British Petroleum has been accused of near Levin

Oil companies make huge profits – if we put together the combined global 2017 revenue of the companies in New Zealand the total figure would be U.S.$758 billion or B.P U.S.$240b + Mobil U.S.$237b, + Caltex U.S.$141b = U.S.$618b. Much is sourced from Asia, west Africa and the Middle East.

Any suggestion that the petroleum companies will suffer if New Zealand and other countries makes them pay full corporate tax is misleading at best. If we applied N.Z. tax to Z Energy which made $2.51 billion in 2016, it would have paid $705,600,000 in tax if paid in full. Z Energy however is a New Zealand company and perhaps understands as a result of being New Zealand owned that it has a social responsibility to be a good corporate citizen.

Despite sponsorships of various community events in New Zealand, the corporate citizenship of B.P., Caltex and Exxon Mobil cannot claim to have such good corporate records in other countries. Environmental disasters, human rights abuses, tax evasion are just a few of the crimes that these companies have committed or are complicit in.

BP need to come clean at the earliest opportunity about what they were trying to do in Levin. Anything less will serve to undermine their corporate citizenship record in New Zealand. It may surprise BP to know that the media are expected in New Zealand to carry out their fourth estate responsibilities to uncover stories and then report them.

So, come on BP. Lift your game.

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