|Environment and human rights groups slam BP on transparency|
Environment and human rights groups today attacked oil giant BP on its controversial Caspian oil pipeline, accusing it of secrecy. They have cried foul over the company's refusal to publish either its compensation payments for the land it has acquired, or details on the pipeline's environmental impacts.
The $3.5 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline applied two months ago for public funding, through the World Bank and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. The project is now half way through the official 120-day 'disclosure period' necessary to obtain finance from the Banks - yet still this information remains secret.
A research trip to Turkey in March found that people who lost their land to the pipeline received only half of the budgeted compensation payment.  Concerned about where the rest of the budgeted money had gone, campaigners have repeatedly asked BP to publish its accounts for this compensation - something BP has still failed to do.
Five local people living on the pipeline route have so far joined a legal action against the project, complaining that they have not been fairly compensated. According to one of them, the payment per square metre is equivalent to the price of eight pieces of chewing gum.
"These statements are only the tip of the iceberg", says Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project. "There are hundreds more people who are in the process of filing complaints about the way BP has failed to consult them about, or pay them for, the use of their land."
Mr Yildiz adds, "The pipeline is cutting costs in precisely the area that affects local people most. It's time for BP to come clean about how much it really paid - and where the rest of the money went".
Meanwhile, environment groups examining the project's environmental impact assessment - which has been published as a legal requirement - have found considerable amounts of key data missing. Instead, the groups claim, the assessment relies on unsubstantiated claims and generalisations. BP has refused twice to make this information available .
Greg Muttitt, of environment research group PLATFORM, commented, "BP's assessment is full of holes. Without the original data it's impossible to know the true impact of the pipeline. Is BP trying to hide something?"
Kate Geary, of the Baku Ceyhan Campaign, added, "BP must adhere to basic standards of transparency if it is to receive public money. Unless it does so, the World Bank and European Bank should say no to the project".
Notes for editors
1: The Baku Ceyhan Campaign is a coalition of Friends of the Earth, Kurdish Human Rights Project, PLATFORM and the Corner House
2: Project documents allocate an average budget payment of $1.49 per square metre of private land, or 2.5 million Turkish Lira. An International Fact-Finding Mission to Turkey interviewed residents about the payments they received for their land. In no case did the Mission find a landowner who had been paid this much. In six villages visited by the Mission, the compensation payments reported by villagers were: 1.25m, 1.25m, range 1.1-1.3m, range 1.0-2.36m, 1m and 1.3m lira. Not a single payment was as high as the budgeted average, and most were about half that level. It is for this reason that accounts were requested from BP, to check whether these findings were representative.
3: emails from Barry Halton (Regional Affairs Director for BTC, BP) to Nicholas Hildyard of the Corner House, July and August 2003 - available on request.