UK MPs criticise export agency for secrecy on support for BP pipelin

UK MPs criticise export agency for secrecy on support for BP pipeline investment

AFX Europe (Focus)
Apr 04, 2005

LONDON (AFX) – A group of MPs has criticised the government’s Export
Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) for being too secretive about why
it was willing to put up 150 mln usd of taxpayers’ money to support
BP PLC’s investment in the Baku-Tbilisi pipeline.

The all-party Trade and Industry select committee said the ECGD’s
reasons for refusing to provide a full assessment of the deal on the
grounds of confidentiality were “unconvincing and unsatisfactory”.

The ECGD provides insurance to British companies involved in
potentially risky export sales.

The committee said the ECGD had followed government guidelines in
considering the views of parties with an interest in the project,
but should be more transparent with its findings.

“Such reluctance has affected our ability to explain our own
conclusions about ECGD’s involvement in the project,” the MPs said.

The committee’s chairman said the brief outline provided by the ECGD
was “not enough” for “such a large and controversial project”.

“We do not believe that it is impossible to produce such a document
without betraying commercial or other confidences, as the department
seemed to suggest,” Martin O’Neill said. The pipeline, which will take
oil from Azerbaijan’s side of the Caspian Sea across the Caucasus
to the Mediterranean, bypassing Russia, is being built by a BP-led
consortium.

The project has sparked protests over environmental concerns, including
the fact that it is being built in an earthquake-prone area.

The pipeline, is due to become operational this year and carry 1 mln
barrels of oil a day to Turkey.

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