Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline and the Kurdish Issue

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  • Topic: Turkey, Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, Caspian Sea
  • Pages : 5 (1612 words )
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  • Published : November 22, 2010
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Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan Pipeline and the Kurdish Issue

The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline links the Caspian sea to the Eastern Mediterranean, it runs 1, 768 km long and is the second longest oil pipeline in the former Soviet Union, extending through the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia, as well as Turkey. At its capacity it can pump up to 1 million barrels (160,00 m3) of oil per day. The construction of the pipeline was a massive undertaking costing upwards of US$3.9 billion. This considered the pipeline was funded 70% by third parties (dominated by British Petroleum). Even well before it’s completion the BTC pipeline has had a remarkable effect on the world’s oil politics; some critics have gone as far to argue that it has directly affected the geopolitics of the Palestinian conflict. One can clearly see the important monetary reasons to this pipeline, however what will be dealt with more in this essay will be it’s contributions to world politics and the controversies that surround it. The BTC pipeline is nothing short of an engineering feat, extending almost exactly 1, 768 km across extremely difficult terrain and diverse climatic and geological zones; techniques and chemical coatings which may have worked perfect for one region had to be changed for others. What sets the BTC pipeline apart though is how this ambitious undertaking affects the myriad communities and millions of citizens, making the pipeline not only an economic undertaking but also a socio-political issue. The South Caucasus, formerly an underappreciated region of Russia, is now of extreme strategic significance; the US along with many other Western powers have vested interests in the affairs of these three nations through which the pipeline runs. The BTC pipeline bypasses the territory of the Russian Federation. It transits through the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia, both of which have become US "protectorates", firmly integrated into a military alliance with the US and NATO. It goes without saying that the pipeline is all about the oil, but it is equally about the social and civic development of the participating countries. In order to properly discuss the social and environmental issues of the BTC project, one must first have an adequate frame of reference from which the project can be judged. There are many principles which one can use including those outlined by the World Bank. However for the purposes of this paper, the Equator Principles will be used. The EPs are a set of principles – outlined by Citigroup, ABN AMRO, Barclays and WestLB – are a voluntary set of principles for determining social and environmental risk in project financing. The Principles, adopted by seventeen leading private banks, specify that said Banks would only provide loans to projects, which meet a number of conditions. These conditions include that projects comply with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) policies, that they follow the host country laws, among other specific requirements. A review in 2003 examined the BTC pipeline; this paper will examine the Turkish section of this review (while many of the same systemic failures were found just as well in Azerbaijan and Georgia). Based on a rigorous study of the BTC project documents, and also on two international FACT finding Missions to the pipeline route, this review found that BTC project is in breach of five EP-referenced IFC standards on 127 accounts. These sections include:

53 counts in Environmental Assessment;
7 counts in Natural Habitats;
30 counts in Indigenous Peoples;
28 counts in Involuntary Resettlement;
9 counts in Cultural Property
The study also found that the project was in breach of international standards such as World Bank standards, European Union Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment, European Bank of Reconstruction & Development. This would be a massive undertaking to properly examine all of the claims made against the BTC...
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