The International Finance Corporation faces the challenge of justifying its planned support for the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline. The pipeline, which is being promoted by a consortium of oil companies led by BP, would run from Baku in Azerbaijan through Tbilisi in Georgia to Ceyhan in Turkey. NGOs from the three countries concerned, plus their international supporters have raised a number of serious concerns. These range from questions of proper assessment, consultation and compensation to larger matters such as corruption, debt and foreign oil companies obtaining exemptions from national laws. There are also issues of whether the project will destabilise a region with a history of conflict and human rights abuses (see Bretton Woods Update 30).
Following a visit to the UK by activists from the three countries in late October, UK groups have sent relevant UK ministers a memorandum outlining 10 sets of issues. Campaigners are requesting members of the public to join them in writing to decision-makers to stop the project entering the IFC‘s project approval process in December. If the project does get accepted for this next phase of IFC review this would mean that a final decision on backing for the project would be due in April 2003.
Campaigners are pointing to a leaked letter from BP to the President of Georgia demanding rapid approval of the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment as evidence that important issues are being neglected under pressure to get this project underway. They argue that such practices by transnational companies may seriously jeopardise the countries’ progress towards democracy.
Developmental, Human Rights And Environmental Impacts Of The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline, Memorandum From Concerned Non-Governmental Organizations To Department For International Development Foreign And Commonwealth Office H.M Treasury & UK Export Credits Guarantee Department, November 2002
Background info, field visit reports, etc, CEE Bankwatch Network.
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