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Proyecto Gato vs. Dexia

Case overview

Date filed 9 May 2004
Current status Bloqueado
Issue El papel de BP en el oleoducto BTC
Summary of the case En mayo del 2004, el Proyecto Gato presentó una queja en contra de tres bancos belgas (KBC, ING and Dexia) en lo referente a su apoyo financiero para el oleoducto BTC.
El PNC belga ha declarado la queja elegible, pero debido a que el protagonista en el oleoducto BTC es BP (British Petroleoum), el PNC británico está tomando el liderazgo del proceso.
El propuesto oleoducto Baku-T'bilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) partirá desde Baku, capital de Azerbaijan, cruzará 1,760 kilómetros a través de la región de T'bilis en Georgia y terminará en la ciudad meditarránea de Ceyhan en Turquía. Se dice que un gaseoducto seguirá también la misma trayectoria. La petroléra British Petroleum (BP) es el principal accionista entre 9 participantes del consorcio. El consorcio BTC está buscando el apoyo político y financiero del Banco Europeo para la reconstrucción y desarrollo y de la Corporación Internacional Financiera del Grupo del Banco Mundial.
Se considera que el oleoducto BTC causa serias amenazas al ambiente, salud humana y seguridad. Además en la construcció del oleoducto, el consorcio BTC (cuyo accionista principal y responsable de la construcción de la tubería es BP) ha buscado exenciones legales e impositivas e ha influenciado indebidamente a los gobiernos involucrados.
Financiando el oleoducto BTC, el banco belga KBC, impide el progreso económico, social y ecológico de Turquía, Georgia y Azerbaiján. Según el demandante está claro que KBC no evaluó ni consideró información adecuada sobre los impactos ambientales, de salud y de seguridad del proyecto. También KBC no supervisó o controló el progreso del proyecto en relación a la implementación de los objetivos ambientales, de salud y de seguridad, para promover el desarrollo sostenible.
Developments/Outcome Although the case was accepted by the UK NCP in August 2003, BP only responded in detail in March 2004, denying that the project violated the Guidelines.

The discrepancy in factual information that the NCP received from the parties, particularly with regard to the impacts on local people, prompted the NCP to visit the region of the pipeline in the three countries from August-September 2005. The NCPs October 2005 report on the trip indicated that several villagers made specific complaints about intimidation by Turkish state authorities.

A dialogue session was held between the parties in October 2005. However, in January 2006, BP broke off the dialogue process. The company also refused to disclose to the complainants its written response to the issues raised by the villagers during the NCPs field visit. Nevertheless, in August 2007, the NCP issued a final statement that relied heavily on BPs undisclosed response to the field visit. The final statement exonerated the company.

After the UK NCP issued its flawed final statement, the complainants appealed to the UK NCPs Steering Board, arguing that the NCPs statement was unfair and that it failed to “make any serious attempts to engage critically with the issues.” In December 2007, the NCP acknowledged the procedural failures and withdrew its final statement.

In July 2008, the Steering Board conducted the first ever review of the NCPs handling of a specific instance. A summary of the Review Committees findings were made public in September 2008. Following the Steering Boards review, BP agreed to share its previously undisclosed response with the complainants. However, the company still refused to disclose the report to the complainants main partner in Turkey and the issue was only resolved after the arranged mediation between the parties.

On 9 March 2011, the UK NCP issued a revised final statement on the case. The NCP ruled that, in relation to the complaint on consultation, BP was in breach of the Guidelines. The NCP stated that BP had failed to investigate and respond to complaints from local people of intimidation by state security forces in Turkey guarding the pipeline and thus determined that, on this point, BPs activities were “not in accordance” with the Guidelines. The NCP determined that BP had not breached the Guidelines on the other issues in the complaint.
Importantly, the NCPs statement implies that multinationals must take into account the human rights context in which they operate if they are to be considered in adherence with the Guidelines.

The ruling potentially places BP in breach of its contracts with international financial institutions that backed the project with taxpayers' money in 2004. Although the OECD Guidelines are voluntary, BP gave a legally-binding commitment to these institutions that the BTC project would comply with them.

In October 2011, the UK NCP issued a Follow-Up Statement reflecting the progress updates from the parties and the conclusion of the NCP on the implementation of the recommendations outlined it its Revised Final Statement.

One of the main recommendations in the Revised Final Statement was that the company should address the potential weakness in its procedures to respond to allegations of intimidation or breaches of the Voluntary Principles.

In the Follow-Up statement, the UK NCP welcomed the steps taken by the company to identify ways to strengthen its procedures and considers that, if implemented, these steps could reduce the risk of future breaches of the Guidelines. Nevertheless, the NCP remains concerned about the fact that the report from the company does not address the issue of intimidation in north-eastern Turkey. Also the NCP remains concerned about the lack of improvements to the grievance management process especially with regard to the credibility of information received outside the formal procedure and the issue of impartiality

Handling of the cases against the non-British consortium partners

There were also procedural problems related to the handling of the cases against BPs non-British consortium partners. Because BP was the lead company in the BTC consortium, the various NCPs decided in 2004 that the UK NCP would “take the lead” in handling the case. Despite this understanding, the UK NCP decided unilaterally in 2005 that it would only deal with the case against BP. The UK NCP consistently failed to keep its colleagues in other countries informed of its handling of the case. Interestingly, the confusion associated with this case prompted the Investment Committee to agree upon a formal procedure for dealing with multi-country cases in June 2008.

In Italy, the Italian NCP finally agreed in January 2008 to conduct an initial assessment of the case against ENI. The NCP hosted a meeting between the parties, and ENI agreed to submit a written response to some of the issues raised in the complaint. After an exchange of views and a disagreement about the interpretation of the Guidelines with regard to stabilization clauses in investment agreements, the complainants asked the NCP to seek clarification from the Investment Committee. The NCP did not do so for several years, but in January 2011 it informed the complainants that that the issue was being addressed in the context of the update of the OECD Guidelines.

Also in January 2011, the Italian NCP made it clear that the ENI case was on hold and that the NCP would automatically adopt the final statement made by the UK NCP in the BP case. Now that that statement has been issued, the complainants in Italy expect that the Italian NCP will officially adopt the UK NCPs statement and make specific recommendations on ENIs compliance with the Guidelines.

In 2006, the French NCP rejected the case against TotalFinaElf, but no further progress on the cases against the other consortium partners, including those in the US.

The Belgian NCP declared the complainants against the Belgian banks eligible, but transferred them to the UK NCP, thereby closing the case in Belgium. However, the UK NCP unofficially declared that it would not evaluate the role of the Belgian banks, and the cases are considered blocked
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Industrias extractivas / Sector minero, Buscar / aceptar exenciones, Medio Ambiente, Sector energético, Sector financiero, Nexo de inversión, Más de un PNC

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Belgium
NCP address Rue du Progrès 50 1210 Brussels, Belgium
NCP website www.ocde-principesdirecteurs.fgov.be
Other NCPs involved

Complainant

ONG

Company Information

Company responsible Dexia Bank
Company address Pachecolaan 44
1000 Brussels
Belgium
Company website http://www.dexia.be/Language.asp
Company in violation Baku-T'bilsi-Ceyhan consortium
Country of operations Georgia
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Some developments are only visible to logged in users.
Date Actor Action Description Document
9 May 2004 Proyecto Gato presentar Proyecto Gato sometí una queja contra Dexia ante el PNC belga. download pdf (46Kb)  
National Contact Point Belgium The Belgian NCP has declared the complaint eligible, but because BP is the main actor in the BTC project, the UK NCP is taking the lead in the procedure. The Belgian NCP forwarded the cases to the British NCP, thereby closing the case for the Belgian NCP. However, the British NCP unofficially declared that it would not evaluate the role of the Belgian banks.  

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