New reports find BTC pipeline unsafe for Azeri citizens
Two reports released today, ahead of tomorrow's Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline 'opening' ceremony in Baku, reveal significant concerns regarding the environmental and social damage being caused by the World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) backed project in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
As western dignitaries gather to celebrate the initial flow of Caspian oil - although the Georgian section of the pipeline is still incomplete - local and international environmental groups pointed to the reports' findings from the field and believe that there is considerable unfinished BTC business.
The reports  produced by CEE Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth England, Wales & Northern Ireland, Les Amis de la Terre, France, Green Alternative, Georgia and the National Ecological Center for Ukraine, summarise information obtained during fact-finding missions to Azerbaijan and Georgia in October 2004.
The reports come only four days after peaceful demonstrators in Baku were forcibly removed by police .
The Georgian report contains leaked documents detailing disputes between the Georgian Government, oil company BP and International Financial Institutions regarding some of these safety concerns, and overall the two reports reveal a catalogue of unresolved problems with the BTC project such as environmental risks and compensation not being adequately addressed .
Manana Kochladze, CEE Bankwatch Network's Regional Coordinator for Caucasus, said, "The developments around the construction of the BTC pipeline unfortunately prove the serious environmental and safety risks highlighted by national and international environmentalists. These risks have been rashly neglected by the World Bank's International Finance Corporation and the EBRD and as a result the number of violations and breaches of international standards is growing, putting the people and environment along the pipeline at ever greater risk."
Hannah Ellis, International Financial Institutions Campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: "It is outrageous that public money, provided by institutions like the World Bank, has been used for this project under the guise of “aid”. The Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline is causing immense problems for the people and the environment it is claiming to serve. The World Bank and the other backers of the pipeline should suspend operations until key environmental and social risks associated with the project have been addressed."
for more information, contact:
Hannah Ellis, Friends of the Earth England, Wales & N. Ireland, Tel: +44
notes for editors:
(0)207 490 1555, Mobile: +44 (0)7952 876929
Manana Kochladze, Green Alternative/ CEE Bankwatch Network Georgia, Tel:
+99599 916647, Mobile: +99599 223874
1. An executive summary and full copies of the reports are available at:
The leaked documents are available at:
2. On Saturday, five days before the ceremony, the Azerbaijan authorities in Baku demonstrated their willingness to cancel out opposition to the project. Demonstrators were not allowed to uphold
their constitutional right to demonstrate as riot police broke up a peaceful action in Baku, on the grounds that it would have been "inexpedient" before the arrival of the US Energy Secretary, attending the opening ceremony.
3. Concerns included in the reports include:
- Uncompensated expropriated land
- Damage to property
- Drinking water pollution
- Non-compliance with Georgian state environmental permit conditions
- High environmental and safety risks
- Increased pressure from the Ilham Aliev regime human rights advocates
- Extreme lack of due diligence on the part of the International Finance
Corporation (IFC) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).