|BP's new pipeline launched amid protests|
Report finds new breaches as Caspian oil begins to flow
Aggrieved villagers in Georgia will shut down construction work today [12 October 2005] as BP officially launches the Georgia section of its newest project, the controversial Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline. The villagers are drawing attention to damage caused to their property and livelihoods during construction. Despite BP promises of fair engagement, most villagers have yet to receive compensation.
Simultaneously, environmentalists and human rights groups will demonstrate outside the London offices of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) . The Bank approved a $300 million loan of public money for the project despite widespread concern regarding its environmental and social impacts. British taxpayers funded the project via the EBRD, the World Bank and the Export Credit Guarantee Dept (ECGD).
A preliminary report on a recent NGO Fact Finding Mission to Georgia (and Turkey ) is also being published today . The mission was conducted by local and international human rights and environmental groups including the Kurdish Human Rights Project (UK), Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), The Corner House (UK), PLATFORM (UK), CEE Bankwatch Network (Europe), Urgewald (Germany), Green Alternative (Georgia), Centre for Civic Initiatives (Azerbaijan) and the Committee for the Protection of Oil Workers' Rights (Azerbaijan).
The observers found a number of problems related to the BTC pipeline in Georgia , including:
Kerim Yildiz of the Kurdish Human Rights Project said: "The Bank approved a $300 million loan of public money for the project and therefore there is a public interest in its social and environmental impact. So far, we remain gravely concerned about that impact."
Mary Taylor, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "The EBRD should be halting construction while it assesses these problems. We are calling for a thorough analysis of this project against the bank's own operational policies and full exposure of BP's short-comings. This pipeline is flawed conceptually and operationally from beginning to end - and the people of Georgia are not getting a fair deal."
Mika Minio-Paluello of PLATFORM said: "Despite the EBRD's claim that their involvement would improve standards, the BTC pipeline has resulted in reduced development and increased human rights abuses. Rather than promoting security, BTC is pushing an already volatile region towards the edge."
1) Activists from Friends of the Earth ( England , Wales and Northern Ireland ) and PLATFORM will meet outside the EBRD entrance on Bishopsgate at 8:30am.
2) The preliminary report is online at www.baku.org.uk
3) A full report will be published later this year.