BTC pipeline scrutiny intensifies as problems increase

Tbilisi (Georgia)/London (UK) Six weeks before the official opening of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline on October 27, campaigners from Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the UK and Germany are launching the next phase of the international BTC Campaign. The campaign aims to intensify scrutiny of the fundamental environmental, social and human rights problems associated with the project. Presentations will be given at Friday’s press conference by Turkish, Georgian, Azeri and European representatives outlining current concerns and campaign demands.

Problems with the delayed and over-budget 1,750km pipeline, spanning Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and funded by the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), are still emerging. Recent controversies include:

  • An overestimation by the project promoters of oil resources in Azerbaijan. As a result, negotiations are currently being held between the Kazak and Azeri governments, who plan to fill the pipeline with Kazak oil, to be transported by tankers through the Caspian Sea. Campaigners argue that far from reducing tanker traffic as was initially promised, these latest proposals will inevitably result in significant increases in tanker traffic in the region and therefore also in the environmental and social risks of the BTC project.
  • In order to deliver BP’s Caspian Sea oil to Ceyhan in time for the official pipeline opening on October 27, it has recently emerged that oil will be delivered directly to the pipeline terminus at Ceyhan by tankers via the Bosphorus.

Long-standing problems associated with the project also remain unaddressed. Manana Kochladze, of Green Alternative in Georgia and Caucasus coordinator for CEE Bankwatch Network, said: We are calling for the World Bank and the EBRD to take action now before it is too late. These public bodies must conduct an independent audit of the long-standing and recently emerging threats to the environment this project has caused and may cause in the future.’

Mayis Gulaliyev, Director of the Centre for Civic Initiatives in Azerbaijan, said: ’Although the BTC Pipeline will shortly be opened, the BTC campaign continues. A fair distribution of oil revenues to the people of Azerbaijan has yet to be seen and until this and other environmental and social problems are fully addressed we will not be backing down.’

Friends of the Earth campaigner Hannah Ellis, based in London, said: The environmental and social problems caused by this project may be in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey but these problems are a result of decisions made by the British government and British companies. It is now time for the British government and BP to take responsibility for the environmental and social problems they have caused. British companies must be held accountable for such damage in company law.’


Contacts in Tbilisi:
Manana Kochladze
Green Alternative