In July 2005 a group of Colombian farmers instituted proceedings in the English High Court against BP Exploration Company (Colombia) alleging that the construction of an oil pipeline by OCENSA (a consortium led by BP) caused severe environmental damage to their lands. In particular, the farmers claimed that the pipeline cut across key water sources which resulted in soil erosion, spoiled crops and fish ponds being starved of water. Further, they alleged that BP, while not directly involved, benefited from the activities of paramilitaries employed to guard the pipeline. The farmers argued that the paramilitaries intimidated the local population, obstructed farming and suppressed legitimate opposition to the pipeline. The farmers claimed that the combined effect of these factors was the destruction of their way of life leading to destitution for them and their families. The farmers asked for £15 million in compensation.