PLATFORM Unravelling the CarbonWeb
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Unravelling the Carbon Web is a project by PLATFORM. We work to reduce the environmental and social impacts of oil corporations, to help citizens gain a say in decisions that affect them, and to support the transition to a more sustainable energy economy.

The Baku Ceyhan Campaign
Impacts of the BTC pipeline
The money behind the pipeline
Financial institutions - breaking their lending rules
Reports & Publications
Is it worth the risk? A financial analysis of the project

Impacts of the BTC pipeline

Since the BTC pipeline was first conceived, politics has consistently been at the centre of the pipeline debate. The pipeline is helping to shore up the undemocratic regime of Azerbaijan, in which Ilham Aliyev replaced his father as President in October 2003 elections that were widely described as fraudulent, including by official observers from the Organisation for Security & Co-operation in Europe. In his inauguration speech, Aliyev threatened to use oil revenues to build up Azerbaijan's army and restart the bloody war with Armenia. Two weeks later, the World Bank approved funding for the pipeline.

In Georgia, the pipeline passes through the vital Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, site of the mineral water springs which provide Georgia's largest export. In November 2002, Georgia's Environment Minister refused to grant an environmental permit for the project to proceed, on grounds that passing through the National Park violated Georgian environmental law. BP wrote to then President Shevardnadze and the US government threatened the severing of aid and investment to Georgia. Shevardnadze called his Minister into his office, where she was kept until she signed in the early hours of the morning.

In the 2002 controversy, Georgia's hands were legally tied. The Georgian government is legall obliged to approve all permits before a fixed deadline according to the Host Government Agreement - the legal document on which the pipeline is based. This document is not simply a contract, but has the status of an international treaty, and over-rides all other national laws (except the constitution). It denies all future governments the right to introduce any new taxes or laws - including environmental, human rights or labour laws - which reduce the pipeline's profitability: unless compensation is paid to BP and its partners.

The risk to environment and communities is worsened by the fact that for the Azerbaijan and Georgia sections BP has chosen a corrosion protection system that is not suitable for the job. According to experts, the protective coating BP has used on pipe welds will fail, leading to corrosion of the steel pipe, and inevitable leaks. In Turkey too, engineers working on the pipeline have reported that construction and management standards are shoddy - leading to significant safety risks.

The BTC project is taking away many people's land and livelihoods without adequate compensation. One landowner in northeast Turkey reports that he was paid the price of 7 pieces of chewing gum per square metre of his land. In some cases, no compensation has been paid at all.

Meanwhile, the project is contributing to human rights abuses in a politically unstable region. In Turkey, human rights defender Ferhat Kaya has been arrested twice, for his activities informing landowners of their rights to compensation. On the second occasion, he was allegedly tortured. During the planning phase, BP did not consider the human rights context, in particular of the Kurds in Turkey, and ignored civil society warnings that this would lead to problems.