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British Petroleum and the BTC pipeline

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  1. Identification of ethical issues and stakeholders involved in the BTC project
    1. Ethical issues raised by the BTC project
    2. Stakeholders affected by BP's activity in the BTC project
  2. Ethical assessment of BP's action
    1. Normative Theoretical Approaches
    2. The international perspective
    3. Corporate Social responsibility
  3. Overall judgement and alternatives solutions possible

The BTC (Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan) project is a 1,770 km long pipeline which will transport up to one million barrels of oil per day from the Sangachal terminal next to Baku in Azerbaijan, then through Tblisi in Georgia, and finally to a new marine terminal at Ceyhan in Turkey. Eleven large oil MNC's from different countries (US, Japan, France, and Italy) are taking part in the project, led by British Petroleum (BP). This pipeline represents an important strategic interest for western countries, as it is a means to reduce the dependency on Middle Eastern oil and to avoid the political instability of the post-Soviet Russia. With the implementation of the project several issues have arisen concerning the consequences of the route, and the building and the functioning of the pipeline in the different countries where it runs. However, according to the Covalence Ethical Ranking 2006 (Covalence, 2007), BP is at the 4th rank in the ?best ethical quote score' category across all sectors, and at the 1st rank amongst ?oil and gas' companies in the same category. Indeed, as far as the BTC pipeline project is concerned, BP is in partnership with Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other organizations set up a ?Regional Sustainability Development Program' (RSDP) aiming at addressing critical social, ethical and environmental issues on a long term basis. Despite BP's efforts, certain NGOs such as Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth still blame BP for unethical behavior. This case outlines on one hand the power and the impact of large MNCs such as BP on countries in which they settle their business, and on the other hand the influence of NGOs on the behavior of businesses. Through this report, an evaluation of BP's approach to the BTC pipeline project will be drawn in relation to the criticisms levied by NGOs. The first part will be aimed at identifying the ethical issues raised by BP's activity and the stakeholders affected by the implementation of the pipeline project. The second part will focus on the assessment, through different ethical frameworks, of BP's action in relation to the ethical issues identified in the previous part. And finally, a judgment on BP's behavior will be established and possible alternative solutions concerning BP's action will be proposed.

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