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BTC Pipeline: Georgia

Technology and Environment

Yet another problem spot in the construction of the BTC pipeline in Georgia can be found where the pipeline skirts the edge of Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. The Borjomi region is famous for its pristine wilderness, and its spas have drawn visitors since they were first developed under the patronage of 19th-century Russian czars. Borjomi is also the source of renowned mineral water. Borjomi water is a major source of revenue both locally and within the greater Georgian economy, where it makes up as much as ten percent of Georgia's total export trade. The BTC pipeline will run as close as 16 kilometers from the Borjomi springs.

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The environmental effects of the BTC Pipeline remain unknown.
The choice to run the BTC pipeline near the pristine Borjomi region drew considerable ire from environmental groups who alleged that a leak could prove disastrous to the wider Borjomi ecosystem. These groups also alleged that simply building the pipeline near the springs would have a negative effect on sales of Borjomi water, and pointed out that the area is prone to frequent landslides that would increase the chances of a breach in the pipeline. For its part, BP has insisted that to avoid the conflict-ridden Abkhazia province to the north and the Karakaia mountain range in the south, the only acceptable route for the pipeline must run near Borjomi. The oil giant has stood by the structural integrity of its pipeline in the area and has installed high-tech monitoring systems it says will ensure that, in the event of a leak, any oil spill will be quickly contained.

In July, 2004, BP was ordered to suspend construction in the Borjomi region for failing to apply for the construction permits necessary to undertake operations there.

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