Gazprom is not ready for the first drilling platform in the Russian Arctic
In a joint statement Russian green NGOs demand freezing the installation of the Prirazlomnaya platform in Pechora Sea planned by the Gazprom neft shelf company for August, until it complies with all safety requirements.
In August 2011, Gazprom neft shelf ltd., owned by Gazprom, plans to transport Prirazlomnaya marine platform from Murmansk to Pechora Sea to start oil drilling and production on the Arctic shelf.
However, platform installation and further works are complicated by numerous negative factors, says a coalition of NGOs, which includes Russian Bird Conservation Union, Socio-Ecological Union, WWF, Greenpeace, and Bellona.
First of all, the modern technologies available for oil companies are not ready for the severe weather conditions. During cold season, temperature of the air may drop to minus 40 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit. According to the official website of Gazprom neft shelf, wind and freezing temperature in the production area amount to 40% of the year, the number of sea storms is as high as 22 a year with an average storm duration of 9.5 days. Sea waves are 3.9 m high on average and 13 m high at maximum. Ice cover lasts for seven months a year from November to May.
“Today we don’t have successful experience of cleaning up oil spills over several dozen tons in the ice conditions”, says the statement. “In case of an accident, up to 8-10 thousand tons of oil may spill in the sea. The situation is even more complicated by the fact that closest emergency rescue services, capable of conducting cleanup operations on the sea, are located in Murmansk, about 1000 km from the site”.
Prirazlomnaya platform is supposed to be installed 50-100 km from Nenetsky nature reserve and a number of federal nature sanctuaries, which in case of an oil spill will probably be contaminated. Fishing of Navaga (Eleginus nawaga), Chosa herring (Clupea pallasi suworowi Rabinerson) and valuable salmon species is a traditional practice of the local people and may be exposed to danger by the project.
“A good example of bad risk assessment is the fact that environmental insurance covers only 7 million rubles (around $251 000), which is hundreds of times less than the real possible damage to the environment”, say environmental groups.
They are also concerned by lack of open information on the project. Neither the project documents nor results of their public discussion are available on the company’s official website http://www.shelf-neft.gazprom.ru/.
Green NGOs demand freezing Prirazlomnaya platform installation and organization of open public discussion of the project to assess its environmental safety and economic viability. They say that Russia has a big potential for raising efficiency of existing oil and gas projects. For example, inefficient gas flaring leads to loss of around 40-50 billion m3 of gas every year. Oil recovery index is very low in Russia – 0.30. Increase of the oil recovery index to 0.37 will provide additional 75 million tons of oil. To compare, planned oil production on the Prirazlomnaya platform will be around 7 million tons a year.