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Since late 2007, Leigh Day has been working to secure compensation for Colombian small scale farmers who say they have suffered devastating environmental damage on their farms due to the construction of the OCENSA oil pipeline, a project which was led by BP Exploration (Colombia) (BPXC), a then wholly owned subsidiary of BP plc.

In 1988 and 1992 BP discovered two oilfields in Colombia. Since then BPXC became involved in the preparatory works to build the OCENSA pipeline. In 1997 BPXC managed the construction of the 800 km long pipeline to transport crude oil to an export terminal in the Caribbean coast.

The pipeline corridor crossed land owned by rural Colombian farmers who claim the construction caused extensive environmental effects on their farms. The alleged impacts include extensive and continued soil erosion, destruction of small streams, poor water quality, the creation of large marshy areas and poor soil quality. The impact on their land has affected the farmers’ ability to conduct their way of life and farming activities such as cattle grazing, crop cultivation and fishing.

The case is progressing in the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) and is the first international case on environmental damage against an oil company in the British Courts.

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