Experts’ Seminar: 12-2pm, Monday 28 October
Place: Committee Room G, House of Lords, London
Book Launch: Soho Theatre, Dean St, W1; 5.45-7.30pm 28 October

On the eve of BP’s quarterly financial results, the oil giant is to face tough questioning from parliamentarians and others at an Expert Seminar in the House of Lords.

The seminar – consisting of an invited audience of parliamentarians, oil analysts, government officials, fund managers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – will consider the proposed Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which BP wants to build through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

The pipeline would cost $3.3 billion and carry a million barrels of oil a day.
The pipeline is BP’s biggest new project for the past 30 years. BP has said the pipeline cannot be built without “free public money” and is seeking UK public subsidies for the project. It will apply for these in December.

Independent Fact Finding Missions to the region, however, have revealed serious concerns over the project:

  • Contracts already signed between BP and Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey exempt the pipeline consortium from all local laws except the host government’s constitution. Are the contracts legal under international law?
  • Consultation has been inadequate and there are major problems over compensation. Would affected communities benefit from the project?
  • The pipeline will cut through or near seven conflict zones. Could the project lead to the militarisation of the pipeline corridor and threaten human rights abuses?
  • None of the oil will be used in the region: all will be exported. Would UK Government backing for the project conflict with UK commitments under the Kyoto Climate Change Treaty?

In response to BP’s wish to consult with “project stakeholders”, a coalition of UK NGOs has arranged an expert seminar in the House of Lords, hosted by Lord Avebury, and introduced by Tony Juniper, Vice Chair of Friends of the Earth International. Among those speaking will be members of a delegation from the three affected countries, now visiting the UK to meet some of the key backers of the pipeline and express their concerns.

To assess BP’s claims for the pipeline against its record elsewhere, the seminar will also hear from guest speakers from Alaska, Scotland and Colombia, where BP operates three other pipelines. The speakers include:

  • former oil broker Chuck Hamel, who has exposed safety and regulatory breaches on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, communicating the reports of whistleblowing employees to Congress, the Senate and the media;
  • Claudia Sampedro, a lawyer based in Bogota, Colombia, co-ordinating human rights cases against BP;
  • Jake Molloy, general secretary of the Offshore Industries Liaison Committee, the largest North Sea oilworkers’ union. All three have closely monitored BP’s record on the environment, workplace safety and human rights. How valid are BP’s claim to be an environmentally and socially responsible company?

BP has been invited to respond to the invited stakeholders. All speakers will be available for interview.

Following the Seminar, activist/comedian Mark Thomas will launch a new book on the pipeline, looking at BP’s claims in the light of the company’s record elsewhere. Advance copies of the book, ‘Some Common Concerns’, are available on request from Kate Geary 01865 200550 or Greg Muttitt on 0208 8095349.

– Kate Geary, Campaign Co-ordinator, 01865 200550, email:
– Greg Muttitt, Baku Ceyhan Campaign, 0208 8095349
– Nick Hildyard, Director, Baku Ceyhan Campaign, 01258 473795
– Nick Rau, Friends of the Earth, 020 7566 1673
– Roger Higman, Friends of the Earth, 020 75661661