London Rising Tide disrupts Caspian oil & gas conference, 27.1.04

Submitted by Anonymous on Tue, 11/09/2004 - 10:10

Activists this morning disrupted a London conference dedicated in part to 'overcoming ecological and environmental concerns' about the pipelines that are beginning to criss-cross the Caucasus with Big Oil and US military backing.

‘Risks & Opportunities in Caspian and Central Asian Oil & Gas’, held at the Paddington Hilton, boasted the participation of many Caspian region energy ministers, as well as oil representatives and investors. Just as a session on BP's highly controversial BTC pipeline was due to begin, activists entered the room and attached themselves to the furniture using bicycle locks, explaining in some detail their opposition to BTC as well as the oil industry in general. Other unattached activists added their point of view and distributed leaflets to bemused conference-goers.

The BTC session was adjourned as security waited for the police to arrive, the activists using this time to brief journalists present about their concerns about the impact of oil and gas development on the climate, on affected communities and the local environment, not to mention the dangerous powers handed to corporations as part of the Host Government Agreement with Turkey.

Eventually, police, bolt-croppers at the ready, agreed that those who were locked-on would not be detained for a breach of the peace if they unlocked themselves there and then. This they did, as well as providing their names and addresses reluctantly, as the alternative was 4-6 hours in Paddington police station.

London Rising Tide has been taking direct action against BP and the BTC pipeline for 18 months now, and has no plans to stop. For example, 2004 is likely to see a Fossil Fuel Free Award for artists, set to run alongside the BP-sponsored National Portrait Award.

Find the (shocking) conference preamble here

Here is the text of the leaflet handed to conference-goers, Paddington Hilton guests and passers-by:

Cut to the chase: how much are we talking here?

Let’s deconstruct the title of the conference currently taking place in the Paddington Hilton, (January 26-27th 2004). The organisers are calling it ‘Risks & Opportunities in Caspian and Central Asian Oil & Gas’. Pretty dry you might think. But what’s the title really saying to the politicians, investors and oilmen (and they are mostly men) attending?

‘Risks’: no, this isn’t a reference to the enormous damage that burning the Caspian’s huge reserves of oil and gas will do to the climate (and therefore to the world’s poorest and least to blame people), it means the negative publicity that might ensue from human rights abuses, high profile protests, US military occupation to protect US ‘energy security’, legal actions from affected communities or NGO campaigns. It also means the risk of not securing public or private funding, not to mention unplanned revolutions sweeping a Caspian Chavez to power. And beneath all these factors lies the terrifying possibility of less or even no profit.

‘Opportunities’: this event is for internal consumption only, so no, they don’t have to spin the line that building pipelines across people’s land will benefit those people and the economy is general, since oil development is known to plunge poor countries into greater poverty. (‘Pumping oil has led to greater poverty, a high likelihood of war and massive corruption - rather than bringing peace, wealth and prosperity for poor people, says a new report from Christian Aid’: What event organisers really mean here is $$$$££££, and plenty of it - for corrupt politicians, corrupt investors, corrupt Western oil companies and their corrupt shareholders, (just to avoid accusations of prejudice against the ruling elites of any particular country.)

After all, what could this quote from the conference text mean: ‘Discuss tactics to overcome political, regulatory, technical and environmental barriers to successful commercial project viability’? We can only applaud such visionary frankness in exposing capitalism’s true triple bottom line: profit, profit and profit. Nevertheless, it has to stop, for the sake of justice, for the sake of the environment, and for the sake of the long-term future of the planet.

London Rising Tide (LRT) is taking action today to disrupt this conference and to bring the issues under discussion to a wider audience. LRT aims to meet the system's violence with creative defiance, taking direct action to confront the root causes of climate chaos, and to promote local, community-run solutions to our energy needs.

Address: 62 Fieldgate Street, London E1 1ES
Rising Tide UK: