Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-39)|
16 NOVEMBER 2004
Mr John Weiss, Mr Roger Gotts, and Mr David Allwood
Q20 Chairman: Do you think that in retrospect
there should have been better quality assurance for the quality
of the coating at an earlier stage?
Mr Weiss: I think, Chairman, there
are possibly two separate issues. There was all the work that
went on over that year to satisfy the lenders that the proposed
coating was appropriate. The issue that arose in early 2004 was
a problem of the coating cracking during the conditions at that
time of the year on-site where there was a particular problem
of getting the material not to crack and it was a problem of the
temperature, I believe, at which it was applied. So it was a rather
separate issue which was particular to the on-site conditions,
and the BTC Company has found a way to resolve that problem. I
think that has to be regarded as rather separate from the more
general decision taken by the company about the appropriateness
of that coating.
Q21 Chairman: I do not want to pursue
this any further. I am not clear whether this is a brand new coating
which has never been tried before or whether there is industrial
experience of it and it then begs the question why did they not
anticipate that the climatic or other conditions on the site would
have resulted in the coating being shown to be not as good as
it should have been?
Mr Gotts: The coating has been
used before. We are told it has been used on pipelines in Canada
and the USA. I understand that the problem was, as Mr Weiss says,
not so much with the coating itself but with the way in which
it was applied during cold weather. It should have had heat applied
as it was being applied.
Q22 Sir Robert Smith: Has it been used
on this kind of pipe with this kind of exterior?
Mr Gotts: The factory coating?
I understand not. It is the first time it has been used.
Q23 Sir Robert Smith: So this is the
first time it has been used in this way?
Mr Gotts: It is the first time
it has been used on a pipe with the polyethylene coating.
Q24 Sir Robert Smith: Have you been reassured
that that is an effective bond?
Mr Gotts: Our independent engineer
has said that it is.
Q25 Sir Robert Smith: There is one last
thing in terms of your evidence on this issue. In 1(c) in your
letter of 19 July,
you talk about what you have just mentioned, that it does not
really matter if the coating does not work because an intelligent
pig will spot the corrosion, but it does seem a bit
Mr Allwood: It
will not stop it, it will identify it.
Q26 Sir Robert Smith:
It will identify the corrosion but presumably this means a lot
of after care and intervention and re-exposing of the pipe and
maintenance work. If the coating was more robust, the intelligent
pig would just reassure you that it was working. But it seems
from your submission that the reassurance is that it does not
matter too much if the coating fails because they are going to
Mr Gotts: I hope we did not imply
that it does not matter if the coating fails. Our advice is that
it should not fail but if it does it has been suggested that the
coating will fail and the pipeline will then corrode. If the coating
fails then the monitoring process would identify that the coating
had failed and that there was a risk of corrosion, so there is
a monitoring process.
Q27 Sir Robert Smith:
So there would be intervention before it went to a leak?
Mr Allwood: I am not sure, not
being a pipeline engineer, and I would not want to put my life
on the line, but a 40-year life with no interventions whatsoever
seems remarkably optimistic. They put in the protection to slow
down the advent of any corrosion, plus they have internal inspections
with the intelligent pigs and they have other monitoring systems
that monitor the status of the pipeline with a view that when
it gets to a stage where they consider there is a potential for
a slight rupture, then in advance of that they will intervene
and repair the pipeline so there is an expectation that some maintenance
will be required.
Q28 Sir Robert Smith:
I do not think you get "slight" ruptures. I think once
ruptures start in a pipeline like that it is fairly dramatic.
Moving on, the NGOs have repeated their earlier criticism that
you have not released an analysis of the project's environmental
impact assessment as you did for the Ilisu Dam project application.
Why have you not done this?
Mr Weiss: I think there is a difference
between the way in which the Ilisu Dam project was taken forward
and this, in that the owners of that document on the Ilisu Dam
would not approve its publication. We therefore in a sense as
compensation published our own advisers' review of that document.
In the case of the BTC pipeline, the sponsors have made a whole
range of information available and that obviated the need for
us to do what we did on the Ilisu Dam, so I think they are two
different sets of circumstances.
Q29 Sir Robert Smith:
Having established you could put your own assessment in the public
domain, what were the reservations that restrained you this time?
Mr Gotts: The documents which
we put in the public domain on Ilisu were not internal ECGD documents,
they were documents which we commissioned from external advisers
and we therefore put those in the public domain. I think the document
which we are referring to here is an internal ECGD document which
for reasons Mr Weiss explained, we were not willing to put in
the public domain.
Q30 Sir Robert Smith:
What was the reason again?
Mr Gotts: It was the Business
Principles Unit assessment of the project, it is an internal ECGD
Q31 Sir Robert Smith:
What would be the harm of it being publicly scrutinised?
Mr Gotts: For reasons which Mr
Weiss explained the ECGD internal assessment is an internal assessment.
Mr Allwood: ECGD policy is that
information about environmental, social impacts, and human rights
impacts must be in the public domain. Our case impact analysis
process description on our website makes it clear that we expect
the owners of that of information, the project sponsors, to put
it in the public domain at the appropriate time in the project's
development which is very early on, usually before we become involved.
BTC Co did that so we have no quarrels with their transparency.
For the Ilisu project the owners of the draft environmental impact
assessment would not put that in the public domain. They only
did so after several years of discussions with them. The owners
of the re-settlement action plan refused to put that in the public
domain. To get round that and to ensure that the information,
although not the actual document, was in the public domain, we
commissioned external consultants' reports on it and published
Q32 Chairman: What we
are really saying is that when an external independent assessment
is published it is as much in the possession of the people who
write the report as the people who receive it but when it is done
by people like you, if you so wish, it can assume the status of
advice to ministers, and advice to ministers is not supposed to
be allowed into the public domain?
Mr Weiss: I think, Chairman, as
I said right at the beginning, the particular document we were
talking about was internal advice and it was used as the basis
for subsequent ministerial advice. Whether there is some halfway
house between what we did publish in the Note of Decision and
that document which would obviate the need for publishing internal
advice but would give reassurance to interested parties that all
issues had been fully taken into account that may be something
that we could consider for the future.
Q33 Chairman: We realise
that in some respects this is a fruitless discussion with you
because the decision does not rest in your hands. What we are
trying to do is to establish the status of the relevant documents
whereby some of them can be published and discussed and other
ones, which might equally be the substance of advice to ministers,
but because they are advice to ministers are deemed as such by
the authorities then they cannot be published and people do not
want them published.
Mr Allwood: For the Ilisu project
because we were commissioning them specifically to get round the
fact that the project sponsor would not do it, we told the consultants
as well as obtaining the information that we were using their
report to put the information out, but that was a one-off that
we do not expect to be repeated. We clearly tell project sponsors
for the future it is up to them to be sure that information is
in the public domain.
Q34 Sir Robert Smith:
If we could move on to the assessment of the impact of the project
on human rights. Things have happened I think you sent
us something yesterday but up until then as far as the
NGOs were concerned you had not responded to their accusation
of a failure of due diligence in the assessment of the impact
of the project on human rights and in the investigation of a number
of serious abuses of human rights, particularly in Turkey. In
presenting your submission to us in the summer you conceded that
you had not addressed these issues and promised to submit further
evidence on this after the summer. It is well after the summer
now and I think yesterday we received a letter of 9 November from
the Foreign Office to the Kurdish Human Rights Project, which
they are happy to be published as evidence. Where was delay in
the "after the summer" promise and the fact that this
is what has appeared now? Was it in the Foreign Office?
Mr Allwood: As you will see from
the letter, it is quite a long letter with a great deal of detail
and we and the Foreign Office, who take the lead on human rights
issues, wanted to be absolutely confident that we had addressed
all of the issues raised by the NGOs and that we had addressed
them fully. It took a long time to put that information together,
for which we can only apologise.
Q35 Sir Robert Smith:
Obviously we need to do a bit more studying as it only arrived
yesterday. In the case of Mr Ferhat Kaya they are saying in the
letter that they are not confident of a link between his treatment
and his connection with the cases to do with the pipeline. Has
the Foreign Office accepted that he is involved in cases to do
with the pipeline?
Mr Weiss: I am sorry?
Mr Allwood: Yes, I have met Mr
Kaya on two occasions and he has been lobbying on behalf of some
of the local people against the pipeline.
Q36 Sir Robert Smith:
But the Foreign Office's view at the moment is that whilst he
may be being maltreated it is for something else rather than his
connection with the pipeline?
Mr Allwood: That is right.
Mr Weiss: I think
the key point from the Foreign Office letter is that there is
not a link, or at least they have not established a link, between
his arrest and his BTC activities.
Q37 Sir Robert Smith:
Have they managed to establish what he has been arrested for then?
Mr Allwood: Yes, the Embassy in
Ankara is aware of the circumstances of his arrest. It is not
to do with the pipeline.
Q38 Sir Robert Smith:
Although obviously when human rights are being abused people do
not necessarily say "we are doing this to you because . .
Mr Allwood: I do not think it
is our position to speculate about potential linkages.
Q39 Sir Robert Smith:
Mr Allwood: What we can say is
that as far as the project and its concept was set out, the pipeline
route was very carefully selected to avoid any settlements so
no people have been physically moved from their homes in order
to establish the project. Some people have had their land acquired
for a short period of time while the pipeline is put in place
and then they will have that land use back again whereas the above
ground installations, the pumping stations, have been acquired
for the life of the project.
1 Appendix 1. Back
Note by witness: The Embassy in Ankara is aware of the
reasons given for Mr Kaya's arrests by the Turkish authorities.
They are not to do with the pipeline. The FCO are also aware of
the allegations of his maltreatment during these periods of arrest
and of his activities in connection with the BTC pipeline project.
However the FCO has not been able to reach a view on whether the
arrests were connected with Mr Kaya's BTC activities. Back