BTC Project Enters its Second Phase

Georgian International Oil Corporation announced beginning of the second phase of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project. The phase will include research and assessment of social and ecological impact of the pipeline, along with certain engineering activities.

Special discussions, dedicated to these issues, were held in Tbilisi on June 10 and 11. The similar discussions will be organized in the regions from 17 to 29 of June. BP company will provide participants with transportation. The meetings will be attended by the representatives of general public and concerned non-governmental organizations.

The NGOs suggested issue of protection of cultural heritage to be included into the project, along with the social matters. GIOC told Civil Georgia, that this issue will be discussed with BP and, most likely, protection of the cultural heritage will be included in the project. At present, a process of detailed description of the historical monuments within 2 kilometer radius along the pipeline (1 kilometer from each side) is in progress. This will become an integral part of social and ecological impact assessment, after completion of which the BP will develop special program for cultural heritage protection.

Along with this joint project BP is unilaterally working of social impact program, which foresees material-technical assistance to and rehabilitation of the schools, as well as rehabilitation of the roads and improved supply of drinking water to the regions.

Under BP’s request, GIOC provided the company with information on agricultural crops and their yield within the pipeline corridor. The assessment was made in 7 regions. After launching of construction works, the local dwellers will not be able to grow crops on this territory. Therefore, BP undertook to compensate the local population in amount of average yield in market price for the current year.

As GIOC informs, great attention is paid to employment of the locals. According to the calculation of the GIOC, up to 70 000 workers will be employed during construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Under the contract, the Georgian side had to provide BP with the list and management right of every object, located within 500 meters wide corridor along the pipeline. GIOC told Civil Georgia, that this task was completed in agreed period of time. On May 1 all documentation was submitted to BP and Georgia completely fulfilled its part of agreement.

More than 10 000 families reside on the project territory. Census has made some changes to the project implementation. Almost everywhere, except Gardabani and Adigeni, in the 7 regions, through which the energy corridor will run, project was changed to certain extent. Project route was reshaped in Marneuli, Tetritskaro, Tsalka, Borjomi and Akhaltsikhe. GIOC states that the sides are ready to make further adjustments to the project, if ecological and social assessment proves it necessary.

Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzerum pipelines would use the same corridor, running parallel to each other in 20-25 meter distance. It is already decided that the oil pipeline will have two pumping stations: one located close to the country border in Gardabani and another one in Tetritskaro. These will be two main buildings of the pipeline, located on the surface. The sides, involved in the project, did their best to locate the pumping stations for minimizing the ecological effect. With the same purpose, a forest will be planted in Tetritskaro.

Technical project is also in its active phase. The final details are being worked out in London in participation of the team of Georgian experts and scientists. One group of specialists is deployed in Tbilisi and reports results back to London.

Georgian scientists and experts, together with BP specialists, literally walked every meter of the pipeline route, studying most sensitive parts of it, namely: river crossings, valleys, landslide areas. Similar expeditions are in progress in Samtskhe-Javakheti. Natural resource deposits, located within the 500-meter corridor are being thoroughly surveyed. The experts also mapped exact location of fresh water reservoirs and mineral deposits. The map will be used for elaboration of the final version of project.

GIOC is making efforts to finalize formal procedures of licensing and land purchasing before the end of this year.

The third phase, which is actual construction of the pipeline, will start in year 2003.

Revaz Bakhtadze, Civil Georgia