Iraqi man demands compensation from British oil firm BP after son dies of leukaemia

Iraqi man demands compensation from British oil firm BP after son dies of leukaemia

Shafaq News/ An Iraqi man has taken the first step to launching legal proceedings in the UK against British oil firm BP, holding the company partly to blame for his son's death.

Hussein Julood sent the company a letter seeking damages on Monday, just over a year after his son Ali Hussein died aged 21.

Ali was raised near the town of Rumaila in Iraq. Julood alleges that gas flaring – the burning of excess gas – at the Rumaila oil field was responsible for his son's cancer.

"My son was my best friend," Julood said.

"Despite his suffering, Ali sought justice for all the people in the community who have been affected by flaring and those suffering from the same issues around the world."

Ali was diagnosed with leukaemia at 15, leading him to leave school and his football team, and spent years receiving "painful and invasive" treatment.

This is believed to be first time a fossil fuel corporation has been faced with a lawsuit in the UK concerning flaring overseas. BP has 90 days to "respond substantively.

Wessen Jazrawi, a partner at the Hausfeld & Co. law firm that is representing Julood, said: "This is an important example of environmental and human rights litigation demanding compensation for harmful emissions from a carbon major.

"Such companies have generally been able to carry out harmful environmental practices with impunity, particularly where these occur in the Global South."

The BBC reported that Julood's letter to BP claimed his son's cancer and later death was the result of "toxic emissions from the Rumaila oilfield".

The letter alleged that BP was partly to blame, according to the BBC.

A press release about Julood's legal move said: "In his letter to BP plc, Julood claims that senior management made decisions that permitted excessive gas flaring to persist at the Rumaila oilfield, where a local BP subsidiary was the lead contractor.

"It is further alleged that such flaring ultimately resulted in the illness and death of his son."

The BBC reported that the Iraqi government owned the site where the flaring took place and that alongside PetroChina, BP was the lead contractor for overseeing the field in a group venture known as Rumaila Operating Organisation.

"BP is not and has never been the operator of the Rumaila field. Nor do we have any ownership interest or equity in the field or any right to the oil it produces," a BP said in a statement published on its website in November.

"Nevertheless, we continue to actively support the lead contractor – Basra Energy Company Limited (BECL) – in its work to help the operator of the field, the Rumaila Operating Organisation (ROO), to reduce its flaring and emissions.

"ROO has and continues to implement a number of strategic projects which have significantly reduced flaring and emissions."

BP added that this includes working with Basrah Gas Company, which the British firm said was responsible for managing the gas produced at Rumaila, to reduce flaring.

BP said it "understands the concerns" and is "in action".

"As shareholders, BP and PetroChina continue to provide technical advice and support to BECL aimed at delivering further improvements at Rumaila," the British company added.

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