On Wednesday 14 May, JA! Attended the AGM of Italian oil and gas giant Eni, in Rome, where we put CEO, Claudio Descalzi, Chairperson Emma Marcegaglia and the board of executives on the spot in front of about 50 shareholders, by asking them questions about their work on gas in Mozambique and oil in South Africa that they really did not want to deal with. This was the first time we had been at the Eni AGM and we were able to go with the help of our Italian partners, Re:Common.
The meeting started at 10am and went on till 9pm, unusually late. After submitting written questions two weeks ago, we received the written answers, in Italian, literally as we walked into the meeting, and had to study them while the meeting was already in session, to see what they had or had not answered sufficiently before we were given a chance to speak.
JA! was given 10 minutes for an intervention. We first gave the context of the way Eni’s Coral Liquid Natural Gas Project was destroying endangered flora and fauna, and forcing people off their land before operations had even started, as well as their oil exploration in Block ER236, off the South Coast of Durban, affecting the livelihoods of at least 20 fishing communities and followed this with a barrage of questions about both of these issues, none of which were properly answered by CEO Descalzi.
While we asked many questions covering a range of topics, the main issues we raised were:
– Why did Eni begin operations in Mozambique in 2006, when they only received their license in 2015, and only completed their environmental impact assessment (EIA) in 2014? (This EIA was done in conjunction with Anadarko)
– Why is Eni’s gas project in Mozambique releasing greenhouse gases that will increase the whole of Mozambique’s carbon emissions by 9.4% by 2022, when their main focus for the next ten years is ‘decarbonisation’?
– Why did Eni ignore the poor and marginilised communities of the South Coast of Durban, while only engaging with the wealthy communities at country clubs and upmarket hotels, to do their EIA?
Descalzi was extremely patronising in his responses, saying that Eni had not done any ‘drilling’ in South Africa, so he is “not sure about the forced removals of fishing communities that you (Ilham) are talking about”.
He also interrupted JA, to say that Eni is not involved in Area 1 so the EIA for Mozambique But this is a lie, as Eni’s logo is on the front page of the EIA.
He did not answer the questions about them beginning operations in Mozambique before they received their license. He also claimed that the resettlement process of what we know to be forcefully-removed communities in Mozambique was in line with the EIA.
He said that the answers to the other questions were in the document of written responses, which will be released next month.
After the end of the AGM, Descalzi sought out JA !representative, and thanked JA! for the questions, to which JA! responded that none of the questions had actually been sufficiently answered, and that his so-called responses were “offensive” as they contradicted what JA! Has seen on the ground, and which we are told by affected communities. He is basically, JA! said, saying that we are either ignorant or lying.
It was clear that we, and our partners Re:Common had an impact on Descalzi – as he was answering our questions, he stumbled, saying “I’m well-cooked”, an Italian saying meaning that he was extremely tired. That he sought Ilham out before anybody else was quite telling, offering her his personal contact details. Now let’s see what happens
JA! will publish a more detailed post, the questions asked, and the verbal responses from Descalzi, as well as an analysis. It’s important to note that Eni, and Descalzi, along with Shell, are currently defendants in a court case, charged with one of the world’s biggest corruption scandals, allegedly paying $ 1.3 billion in bribes, to Nigerian politicians for the purchase of an oil field in Nigeria. Let’s see now, if he keeps his word by responding fully and personally to the questions he has offered to personally answer, while also remembering, Can we trust one of the most corrupt men in the world?