Washington DC—In response to an international campaign led by US NGO Crude Accountability, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided to postpone its decision on financing an environmentally and politically dangerous project in Turkmenistan. The Board was set on voting for the CMI Offshore project on March 22nd, but it is currently unclear when the decision will be made.
Since January 2017, over 40 international civil society organizations have demanded transparency and accountability from the EBRD on this project, requesting that the Board of Directors vote it down due to significant environmental and governance concerns.
According to EBRD officials, the $30 million loan would be used to purchase one or more vessels that service offshore oil rigs, and is labeled a ‘Category B’ project, meaning impacts should be readily identifiable, site specific, and easily addressed.
Crude Accountability was disheartened to learn that the transportation route for such vessels off Turkmenistan’s coast in the Caspian Sea would cross through the Hazar Nature Reserve, a Wetland of International Importance protected under the RAMSAR Convention. Hazar is home to over 50 species of endemic fish, at least 10 of which are endangered. According to EBRD Social and Environmental Policy, any project, which may impact a protected area, should be classified as a Category A, and subject to rigorous social and environmental impact assessment and mitigation. An independent Social and Environmental Impact Assessment has not been done for CMI Offshore. Since Turkmenistan dissolved its Ministry of the Environment in 2016, there is no governmental environmental accountability inside the country.
Further, due to Turkmenistan’s egregious human rights and governance record, EBRD’s Turkmenistan Country Strategy prevents the Bank from financing the oil and gas sector. “By classifying CMI as a ‘Transport’ sector project, as opposed to an associated facility of offshore oil development, the Bank absolves itself from any wide reaching environmental or political impacts of its investments. We have seen this before in Kazakhstan, where EBRD financing of oil transportation from the Kashagan field directly resulted in the deaths of thousands of endangered Caspian seals,” said Sonia Zilberman, South Caspian Energy and Environment Coordinator at Crude Accountability. Transport projects are usually labeled as Category B, and do not undergo the scrutiny that high-risk energy projects require.
As the EBRD prepares for its Annual General Meeting in Cyprus, May 9-11, Crude Accountability urges the Bank to respect the international protection of the Hazar Nature Reserve under the RAMSAR Convention, its own commitments to the highest international environmental standards, and its mandate under Article 1 of its agreement to invest in countries committed to the principles of democracy.
For more information, please contact:
Sonia Zilberman Elena Sorokina
Caspian Energy and Environment Coordinator Communications Manager
Crude Accountability Crude Accountability