Solar Turbines

Caterpillar Inc.

"Solar Turbines, a division of Caterpillar, requested this license because it wanted to bid on a project to build a natural mixing station needed by the Turkish government-owned pipeline company, Botas. In its application, Solar Turbines acknowledged that the mixing station in Sivas, Turkey, would serve a pipeline that carried Iranian gas through Turkey and into Western Europe.

The United States has a clear-cut policy that it does not support pipelines that deliver Iranian gas to customers outside that country’s borders, for the simple reason that Iran’s huge natural gas resources prop up its economy and help finance pursuits like its nuclear program. But in this case, the company argued, the station would primarily serve a different, United States-supported pipeline called the Shah Deniz, which pipes gas from Azerbaijan to Turkey, and thus would reduce reliance on Iranian gas. In fact, according to Botas and Turkish Embassy officials, the opposite was true. A Turkish diplomat, Tuncay Babali, said that back in 2005, when this license was issued, 'the Sivas station was primarily for Iran gas, actually.' And that is still the case today, according to Oguz Zimamoglu, the head of Botas's central gas control unit. 'Primarily the gas flowing from Sivas is Iranian gas,' he said. A Caterpillar spokesman, Jim Dugan, said the company relied on the best information it had in making its application, while OFAC said in a statement that its decision was the product of an interagency review that found that 'notwithstanding an Iranian nexus,' granting the license was in America’s foreign policy interest. In the end, another company won the right to build the station. But Elliott Abrams, who at the time served as the deputy national security adviser and should have been involved in any interagency review, said the fact that Solar Turbines was allowed to bid raises questions about the government’s vetting process. He did not recall any debate on the issue, which he called 'surprising' because 'the issues are significant.'" (New York Times, "Licenses Granted to U.S. Companies Run the Gamut," 12/24/10)