William Shakespeare (a.k.a Mark Hammond of Rugby Friends of the Earth) made a special appearance at construction multinational AMEC plc’s offices in Stratford-upon-Avon on August 19th as part of a demonstration against the company’s involvement in the Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline.

Protesters from Stratford, Rugby, Redditch and Birmingham Friends of the Earth groups told AMEC employees through a loud-hailer that the pipeline will be a human rights, environmental and social disaster for the countries involved and demanded that the company pull out of the project.

Nervous security guards were particularly keen to keep us cordoned off in the forecourt where we couldn't get into mischief. But all we wanted was to distribute letters from the Baku-Ceyhan Campaign to AMEC’s employees telling them about the issues surrounding the project and how they can put pressure on the company to withdraw. Our campaign was not against AMEC employees, but against AMEC’s decision to participate in this irresponsible and short-sighted project. Luckily, the loud-hailer was no respecter of cordons or security guards.

Condemned by over 70 international human rights and environmental organisations, the BTC pipeline will transport oil 1,750km from Baku in Azerbaijan through Georgia to Ceyhan on the Turkish Mediterranean coast. BP has awarded AMEC’s subsidiary company Spie the largest construction contract for the Georgian section of the pipeline, to be completed by mid-2005.

From poverty-stricken Azerbaijan and Georgia to war-torn Turkey, only by an privileged elite stand to gain from BTC, while ordinary people bear the environmental and social burdens.

Local communities say they haven’t been fully consulted about the project and are worried they won’t receive fair compensation for damage to their lands and livelihoods. Not surprising when you consider the Intergovernmental Agreement for the pipeline states that the project “is not intended or required to operate in the service of the public benefit or interest in its Territory”.

There is little incentive for the host governments to protect human rights and the environment because they have agreed to pay compensation to the consortium if pipeline construction or operation is disturbed.

Under Threat
The BTC threatens unique and sensitive natural habitats, including primeval beech forest; Georgia’s foremost national park, the Borjomi Natural Preservation; and the mineral springs from which Borjomi mineral water, one of Georgia’s most important exports, is derived. Worse still, as the pipeline follows a highly active earthquake fault line in northern Turkey, disastrous oil spills are almost inevitable. The proposed route breaches IUCN (World Conservation Union) guidelines, and is strongly opposed by the Georgian public.

The pipeline will undermine and distort local economies in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. Oil extraction projects can significantly damage economies, making them over-reliant on oil and prey to corruption. Revenues assigned for
development end up in the hands of a powerful few, with little or no benefit to the poor majority.

Last but not least, the pipeline will transport oil which, when burnt, will be equivalent to 30% of the UK’s yearly carbon dioxide emissions.

AMEC's claims to "respect the human rights and dignity of those affected by our operations” and “pursue an absolute goal of causing no harm to the environment.” Fine words indeed but where's the action to back them up?

Take Action
You can write to AMEC's Chief Executive Sir Peter Mason at AMEC plc, 65 Carter Lane, London, EC4V 5HF, or email him at www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/corporates/press_for_change/email_peter_mason/
For more info visit www.baku.org.uk

Stop Press: Spie pull out of Yusufeli Dam
The future of the Turkish town of Yusufeli is looking brighter in 2003. Leading contractor, French company Spie, has recently pulled out of the controversial Yusufeli Dam. The move follows Amec's withdrawal from the project in March 2002.

However, French-British company Alstom is still pushing ahead with the project and Barclays is arranging the financing, so our campaigning doesn't end here.

If built, the Yusufeli Dam would flood 18 towns and villages, along with precious archaeological sites such as churches, fortresses and a citadel. Currently undisturbed habitat, home to endangered species such as the red vulture and brown bear, would also be lost. The project would drown the homes of 15,000 people and displace a further 15,000.