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BP's new Caspian Pipeline: Fit for Public Funding?


Expert Seminar: BP's new Caspian Pipeline: Fit for Public Funding?

BP's new oil project a "disaster waiting to happen", say Campaigners BP Refuses to Discuss Concerns in Public

Following the release of BP’s quarterly financial results the oil giant faces a challenge to its largest new project for the past 30 years[1].
BP wants to build a 1,750-km oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey, from Baku on the Caspian Sea to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean, costing $3.3 billion. The pipeline would carry a million barrels of oil per day.
BP insists on UK public subsidies for the project. It will apply for these in December. At an Experts’ Seminar today, UK campaigners will argue that British taxpayers would be paying for an economic, social and environmental disaster[2].
The campaigners – who helped prevent UK involvement in the controversial Ilisu Dam last year have returned from a fact-finding trip to the route of the pipeline. They say that:

  • local consultation and compensation measures fall woefully short of BP’s claims. Most of the villages visited by campaigners had not even been informed about the project; but through much of Turkey people would lose their land with no compensation.

  • the pipeline would cut through or pass near seven conflict zones.[3] BP has been severely criticised in Colombia where human rights abuses within areas of the company’s operations have been well documented. The new pipeline would be a militarised corridor through three countries, subsidised by the UK taxpayer;

  • public backing for the project would run counter to UK commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty;

  • contracts already signed between BP and the three host governments have been described as ‘colonial’ and threaten to bypass social and environmental legislation.

Kerim Yildiz, a Director of the Baku Ceyhan Campaign said,

“BP’s Caspian pipeline threatens homes, lands and livelihoods across three countries. It’s time to question public funding for rich and destructive oil corporations.”

On 28 October, groups from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey gathered in the House of Lords, London to meet some of the key backers of the pipeline and express their concerns. At the Experts’ Seminar they met fellow guests who have long and bitter experiences of BP’s three biggest existing pipeline systems – the speakers included campaigners from Alaska, Scotland and Colombia.
Despite BP’s stated commitment to consultation with all stakeholders, the oil giant refused to participate in the seminar.

Mr Yildiz added,

“It seems BP only wants to talk to the stakeholders who already agree with it. It is shocking that BP expects to receive taxpayers’ money, yet refuses to talk to elected representatives to justify its project.”

Following the Seminar, activist/comedian Mark Thomas launched the campaigners’ new book on the pipeline, Some Common Concerns, which examines BP’s claims in the light of the company’s record elsewhere.[4]


For more information please contact:

- Nick Hildyard, Director, Baku Ceyhan Campaign, 07773 750 534
- Press Office, Friends of the Earth, 020 7566 1649
- Angela Debnath, Kurdish Human Rights Project, 020 7405-3835
Speakers at the Expert Seminar are available for interview:
Manana Kochladze, Caucasus Co-ordinator (based in Tbilisi, Georgia) of CEE Bankwatch Network (which monitors the environmental and social impact of major infrastructure projects in central and eastern Europe –
Charles (Chuck) Hamel, a former oil broker who has publicised and highlighted reports by whistleblowers working on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and BP’s Prudhoe Bay oilfields, raising serious safety and regulatory breaches (see and
Claudia Sampedro Torres, an environmental lawyer based in Bogotá, Colombia, who has run environmental and human rights cases against BP, relating to its oil production operations in Casanare province, Colombia.
Jake Molloy, General Secretary of the Offshore Industries Liaison Committee, the UK’s only union for offshore oil workers (

[1] Azerbaijan is BP’s biggest new development area since the 1970s, and the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline would be BP’s biggest ever. BP and its partners plan to spend US $ 15 billion in Azerbaijan over the next five years. Investors will be nervous that BP is pinning its success so much on such a risky and controversial project.

[2]British taxpayers’ money would be channelled through three routes: the International Finance Corporation (part of the World Bank, of which the UK is a member), the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (of which the UK is also a member), and Britain’s own Export Credit Guarantee Department (part of the Department of Trade and Industry).

[3]Nagorno-Karabakh (Armenia vs Azerbaijan - 15 km from pipeline); South Ossetia (55 km from pipeline); North Ossetia and Ingushetia (220 km from AGT system); Abkhazia (130 km from pipeline); Chechnya (110 km from pipeline); Dagestan (80 km from pipeline); Eastern Turkey / Kurdish areas (pipeline passes through conflict region).

[4]The book launch was held at the Soho Theatre, Dean Street, W1 from 5.45-7.30pm. The book is published by the organisations which make up the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign coalition: PLATFORM, the Corner House, Friends of the Earth International, Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale, CEE Bankwatch Network and the Kurdish Human Rights Project.

This book is aimed at helping the reader imagine the proposed Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey pipeline systems, recounting the 13 years of planning, the political positioning of the three host countries and crucially of the USA and Britain, the strategic manoeuvring of BP and its partner companies. The book also examines the experience of BP's three biggest existing pipelines and asks whether the same patterns of environmental damage, human rights abuses, economic injustice and effective political colonisation can be expected if this system is built.