Petra's homepage


Experiences of a Dutch Journalist





Greens send environmental demands to oil & gas operators

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, 16 January 2003 - Fifty environmental organisations on January 8 sent a list with environmental and social demands concerning the implementation of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects, Sakhalin Environmental Watch reported. The document was sent to Sakhalin-2 operator Sakhalin Energy (SEIC), Sakhalin-1 operator Exxon Neftegas Limited (ENL), Russian governmental bodies, international and Russian organisations and investors.

The group, among which are Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and other Russian and international environmental organisations, suggests that the operators carry out the oil and gas projects on Sakhalin according to the latest environmental standards in areas having a sensitive eco-system, endangered species or a high diversity of species.

The greens think that, currently, these environmental demands are not fully observed. For example, SEIC has not yet moved towards ‘zero discharge’ standards in which drilling muds and cuttings are re-injected into the oil field instead of dumped in the Sea of Okhotsk, Sakhalin Environmental Watch reported.

The environmentalists also demanded that the operators reject the idea of constructing underground pipelines in a seismic active zone such as Sakhalin. They suggest following Alaska’s example where pipelines were constructed on the surface using special supports. The list also includes a demand for construction of pipeline bridges over spawning rivers instead of underneath. The group insists oil and gas transportation under icy conditions and dump of industrial wastes in Aniva Bay should be stopped.

Other demands are an improvement of oil spill prevention programmes and recovery of costs of oil spill liquidation from the project operators. The environmentalists also demand that all plans are discussed with the fishing industry and that environmental information on the projects is made available to the public.

Another document the environmentalists sent lists of social demands, such as increasing the financial benefit from the projects to the local community. The environmentalists also suggested SEIC and ENL pay taxes to the regional budget and sell gas in the local market at reasonable prices.

The environmentalists think that the projects should not be approved by the federal and regional authorities and supported by banks before the operators have complied with the demands, Sakhalin Environmental Watch reported.

The main goal of the demands is to minimise the harmful effects of the oil and gas projects on the local environment and fishing industry, not to stop or shut down the projects, Sakhalin Environmental Watch stressed.

This article was published in the Sakhalin Independent.