Azerbaijan: Abuses by oil companies include workplace discrimination, illegal termination of contracts, health & safety violations, sexual harassment, environmental pollution, say NGO reports; includes company comments

The reports "The effects of oil and gas production on the environment and human health: Comparative evaluation” and “2017 Annual Report” by Oil-Workers’ Rights Protection Organization detail human rights abuses and environmental pollution by companies in the oil sector in Azerbaijan. Reported human rights abuses include workplace discrimination, illegal termination of contracts, health & safety violations and sexual harassment.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies mentioned in the reports and their shareholders to respond. SOCAR, Bahar Energy Operating Company, Salyan Oil Operating Company, Karasu Operating Company, Neftchala Operating Company, Shirvan Operating Company, Greenfields Petroleum and Global Energy Azerbaijan Group did not respond. BP and Schlumberger responded.

Materials with full information and the responses & non-responses are below.

 

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Report
13 March 2018

2017 Oil Workers’ Rights Protection Organization Annual Report

Author: Oil Workers’ Rights Protection Organization (OWRPO)

...The report reflects the problems in the implementation of legislation in country's oil sector, proposals and recommendations are given for the solution of these problems...During the reporting period the following articles of LCAR [Labor Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan] were violated by the employers: Article 45.4 (When the nature of the work or services are a priori specified as permanent according to the job description, an employment contract must be concluded without specified term). Observed: SOCAR, its enterprises and departments, Azfen JV, Nobel Oil, Karasu OC, “Schlumberger Overseas SA”, “Schlumberger logelco İnc, Salyan Oil, SOCAR ADC. This law violation allows the dismissal of an undesirable employee. This process which is the biggest law violation in Azerbaijan oil industry (1, 2, and 3, 6 months and up to 1 year period of term labor contract with employees) still continues and causes a large number of people to lose their jobs...Article 16 (discrimination) one of the main reasons for discrimination is nepotism...Observed: SOCAR enterprises and institutions. Articles 68, 69, 70, 71, 77, 78, 79, 80 (Illegal termination of labor contracts, compulsory written applications, violations of law requirements during reduction, Employees and circumstances forbidding the termination of labor contract and etc.) Observed: SOCAR's Complex Drilling Trust, Oil and gas construction Trust, BP Exploration (Caspian Sea) Limited Liability Company, Karasu Operting Company...In 2017 42 people were injured in...accident[s[, 7 of which resulted in death, 5 of them were employees of SOCAR...[N]on-payment of wages for overtime work, night time, sea and thirst ratio) Observed: “Schlumberger Overseas SA”, “Schlumberger logelco İnc”, Azerbaijan branch of VEUS Holding LLC, SOCAR Caspian Oil Department...

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Report
13 March 2018

The effects of oil and gas production on the environment and human health

Author: Oil-Workers’ Rights Protection Organization (OWRPO)

Monitoring and evaluation by various agencies, experts in areas exposed to environmental impacts of oil projects confirm that the environment is exposed to the following impacts during production. Emissions into the atmosphere (associated gases-methane, volatile organic compounds, gas burning, etc); Disposal of contaminants to surface and ground water, including the Caspian Sea as a result of use of water in well equipment and compressor stations; Extraction of highly mineralized layer water together with oil; Land pollution with oil and oil products; Drilling cuttings and their burial; Oil spill caused by accidents; Technical equipment which expire date is over, residues of floating vehicles and solid waste formed as a result of repair and construction work. This has a significant impact on the health of the affected population...There are 4 Operating Companies in the selected regions: Salyan Oil OC, Karasu Operating Company which belongs to Global Energy Azerbaijan Group (“GEA”), Neftchala Operating Company and Shirvan Operating Company.

Company non-response
12 March 2018

Bahar Energy Operating Company did not respond

Company response
12 March 2018

BP response

Author: BP

With regard to BP’s employee relations we would like to state that BP always adheres to the laws and regulations relevant to the topic referred in the report. In BP we create an inclusive working environment where everyone can make a difference and give their best. In Azerbaijan BP employs more than 530 women professionals, with 87 of them in senior positions. In total BP employs 2,448 Azerbaijani nationals including fixed-term employees. This makes 89 percent of BP’s professional employees in Azerbaijan...BP remains committed to achieving a nationalization target of 90 percent for the professional staff by the end of 2018...On the environmental impacts of our operations, we would like to state that we have more than 25 years of experience of reliably and efficiently operating in the Caspian. As such we do recognize that managing environmental impacts is an essential part of what it means to responsibly produce oil and gas. We work hard to avoid, minimize and mitigate environmental impacts wherever we do business. In Azerbaijan, our environmental management system is independently audited against ISO 14001. In addition, for many years, environmental surveys have been helping us to identify and understand the impacts of our activities on local environments. We run a programme for ambient environmental monitoring around our onshore and offshore facilities.

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Company non-response
12 March 2018

Global Energy Azerbaijan Group did not respond

Company non-response
12 March 2018

Greenfields Petroleum did not respond

Company non-response
12 March 2018

Karasu Operating Company did not respond

Company non-response
12 March 2018

Neftchala Operating Company did not respond

Company non-response
12 March 2018

Salyan Oil Operating Company did not respond

Company response
12 March 2018

Schlumberger's response

Schlumberger generally does not comment on ongoing litigation. However, Schlumberger Overseas SA and Schlumberger Logelco İnc., are aware of no litigation or claims against them in Azerbaijan alleging unlawful dismissal of employees.