U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil has purchased from a 2.5% interest in the BTC (Azeri Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) pipeline. The stake was acquired from an Itochu subsidiary, CIECO, according to an executive of the oil major. Other shareholders in the firm that runs the BTC pipeline include British Petroleum, AzBTC, Chevron, Statoil, TPAO, Eni, Total, Itochu, Inpex and ONGC.
The BTC pipeline transports oil originating from the Azeri-Chirag-Guneshli oilfields in Azerbaijan to Turkey through Georgia. Construction of the 1,768 kilometer-long pipeline began in 2003 and became operational two years later. The pipeline has a capacity of 1.2 million barrels a day. The longest part of the pipeline is in Turkey – about 1,076 kilometers, while the shortest is in Georgia – 249 kilometers. In Azerbaijan the pipeline’s length is 443 kilometers.
The acquisition of a stake in the BTC pipeline comes in the wake of ExxonMobil countersuing in a climate-change lawsuit. At least 30 organizations and individuals have been targeted in the countersuit and this includes attorney generals of states such as Massachusetts and New York.
“The attorneys general have violated ExxonMobil’s right to participate in the national conversation about how to address the risks presented by climate change. That is the speech at issue here—not some straw man argument about whether climate change is real,” Dan Toal, an ExxonMobil lawyer, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The tactics the oil major has employed includes demands for depositions, lawsuit threats and actual lawsuits. According to ExxonMobil the environmental activists, public officials and lawyers are engaged in a ‘conspiracy’ against it.
Per the oil major the conspiracy was hatched in 2012 during a meeting that was held in California. Hosting the meeting were organizations that have the backing of Rockerfeller Brothers Fund. In the meeting, according to ExxonMobil, scholars and lawyers discussed litigation strategies which had been employed against Big Tobacco in order to apply the same in the climate change lawsuit.
This is not the first time that ExxonMobil is alleging a conspiracy. Two years ago ExxonMobil claimed a meeting hosted by Rockerfeller Family Foundation for public-interest advocates was a conspiracy. However trustees of the foundation dismissed the claim calling it absurd.
According to some legal scholars ExxonMobil could be countersuing with a view to changing the conversation and generate sympathy by being viewed as a victim instead of a perpetrator. The tactics ExxonMobil is using could also be aimed at intimidating while at the same time acting as a diversionary tactic.