Crude Accountability was incorporated in March 2003 by seven environmental activists who worked together on an innovative regional environmental program in the Caspian Sea region. Based in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Turkmenistan and the US, our founders established Crude Accountability to protect the natural environment of the Caspian Sea and ensure environmental and human rights for communities impacted by natural resource development.
From the outset, we have focused our campaigns on the local level, bringing the concerns and demands of communities to the international arena. The first community to invite us to collaborate was the village of Berezovka in western Kazakhstan. At that time, the residents of the village sought to understand why the health of their community had begun to deteriorate with the start of operations at the nearby Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, where the operators were financed by the World Bank Group. They were also campaigning for compensation and relocation to a healthy location of their choosing. Since then, Crude Accountability has been working hand-in-hand with the villagers to achieve these goals. We provide training, information, and campaign support to the villagers, including independent air monitoring training, human rights workshops, environmental health trainings, communication with the World Bank, and interaction with other international human rights and environmental justice NGOs and the press. Together, we have achieved successes that once seemed out of reach—we have legally obtained access to information deemed confidential by the Karachaganak consortium, attracted international attention to the campaign, and worked as a strong advocate for better project oversight from the World Bank. In fact, as a result of an official complaint by Crude Accountability, the World Bank found its private lending arm out of compliance with monitoring standards for air emissions at the Karachaganak field. With each of these successes, our campaign has grown stronger and, together with the residents of Berezovka, we continue to fight for relocation and compensation.
In 2006, Crude Accountability was invited by citizens on the Taman Peninsula in the Kuban region of Russia to work together to stop the development of oil and gas terminals on the peninsula. As in the Karachaganak case, the Russkiy Mir Oil Terminal received funding from the World Bank Group, and the terminal was slated to transport increasing volumes of oil from the Caspian through the Black Sea and on to Europe. The project threatens local communities by destroying their most productive fishing grounds, polluting the air, water and soil and undermining the traditional economy, which is based on fishing, tourism and agriculture. Crude Accountability is working with the local community to ensure their voices are heard, their economic, environmental and human rights are not violated, and to secure a sustainable and environmentally sound future for the Taman Peninsula.
In 2012, Crude Accountability began working with the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus to protect wetlands in the Kuban area of Russia, located in Krasnodar Region. The project documents violations of Russian environmental law in protected territories in the wetlands around the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, and includes an exchange program with experts protecting wetlands and protected areas in North Carolina.
Crude Accountability also researches and carries out advocacy campaigns on
- the impact of oil and gas development in the petroleum-rich and highly repressive country of Turkmenistan;
- the environmental, social and auditing policies of international financial institutions,
- oil spill prevention and response mechanisms employed in the Caspian Sea and elsewhere,
- the development and implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea, and
- the environmental and social risks associated with the gigantic Kashagan offshore oil field development.
On each of these issues, we conduct independent research and analysis, which we present to the general public, government institutions and academia. This analytical research complements our hands-on campaigning by providing a framework for understanding the larger forces at play in the Caspian Sea basin.
Through our campaigns and analytical research, Crude Accountability has become a respected authority on the impact of oil and gas development on local communities throughout the Caspian region.