(Reuters) - Seventy-three farmers from Colombia are suing BP Plc alleging the company negligently managed the construction of the Ocensa oil pipeline in Colombia during the mid-1990s, which caused severe damage to their land, the Financial Times reported.
The group of farmers, called "campesinos," claim pipeline construction activities by British company Equion Energia, formerly BP Exploration (Colombia) Limited, severely reduced the productivity of their farms, and are seeking about 18 million pounds ($28.93 million) in compensation, the FT reported. (http://on.ft.com/1vVJTCS)
A number of Colombian farmers are scheduled to travel to London to provide evidence in the case, which will be argued with reference to contractual and extra-contractual liability under Colombian law, the paper said.
The Ocensa oil pipeline project was undertaken by BP Exploration (Colombia) in partnership with four MNCs and Colombia's national oil company, where BPXC entered into contracts with the farmers to lay the oil pipeline through their private land, the FT said.
"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 in a statement.
The company said it is confident in its legal position and believes it is appropriate for the case to be defended vigorously.
In 2011, BP sold all of its assets in Colombia which led to the creation of a new brand, Equion Energy Limited, according to Equion's website. (http://bit.ly/1nip9EW)
($1 = 0.6222 British pound)
(Reporting by Ankush Sharma in Bangalore; editing by Matthew Lewis)