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Oil and environment of the Arctic

Дмитрий Несанелис
Дмитрий Несанелис
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April 1, together with the head of the company "RegionStroyGaz" Vladimir Gudovichev we were at the congress of Komi historians in Syktyvkar with a report on the history of the oil and gas industry in the Timan-Pechora region. Abridged versions of the report, which attracted great interest of the representatives of large companies and in humanitarian field, will be published by "Region" and "Krasnoye Znamya Severa" in the near future. However, regulations didn’t allow to present important considerations on the topic in the title of these notes.

Speech of Dmitry Nesanelis in plenary

They were also not discussed in the materials offered to the KZS and "Region". Considering their undeniable relevance, "oil-environmental" considerations are in a separate text. Vladimir Gudovichev also prepared a special and, in my opinion, very meaningful comment on the situation in the Nenets Autonomous Area. It was published right after my notes.

The third material of this single unit is a comment of the famous scientist, corresponding member of the RAS, manager of the Vernadsky Fund Vladimir Grachev.

Offensive position of "Committee".

Oil spills, explosions of tank vessels (remember the dramatic events at the Lukoil facility under Usinsk in April last year); unfortunately, other accidents and violations in the Timan-Pechora were usual in recent years. They received harsh and often quite fair criticism, especially on the part of the socio-ecological association «Pechora Rescue Committee», working closely with Greenpeace, and partly of the Interregional public movement «Izvatas». Collective letters of protest of the villagers against activity of oilers were addressed to the heads of state.

At the same time, we have to admit that sometimes managers and experts, in particular close to "LUKOIL - Komi". seemed not always convincing and tactful during the debate. So, instead of distinct arguments against environmentalists, "Izvatas" and their supporters, sometimes there were controversial judgments not without a shade of demagoguery.

Representative «round table».

Round table, held on 19 August 2014 in Usinsk, was more positive. The event was dedicated to environmental issues, in particular, the prevention of oil spills and methods of their localization, purification of soil, water, conservation of natural landscapes and biodiversity.

It was initiated by Greenpeace and the Save the Pechora Committee. Deputy Minister (now - minister) of Natural Resources of Komi Roman Polshvedkin, curator of the Greenpeace energy projects Vladimir Chuprov, chairman of Chamber of Control and Accounts Fyodor Terentyev, Colva residents, civic activists and experts took part in the discussion.

We emphasize that managers of "LUKOIL - Komi", "RN - Severnaya Neft", "Rusvietpetro" LtD and some other enterprises took quite an active part in the round table. The participants showed readiness for dialogue. This can be considered as unquestionable moral victory for the event organizers and also an important evidence in favor of the readiness of those companies which had legitimate grievances to seek and find common ground with the environmental community and local communities in general. In particular, it is related to "LUKOIL - Komi". The company which, in spite of constructive criticism, is still "native" for me.

What to do?

For the development of this interim success it is advisable to hold annual meetings with CEOs (of course, we mean heads of regional subsidiaries), specialized ministers, heads of public organizations, environmentalists, representatives of municipalities with oil production. Following this logic, the meeting can be completed by the adoption of resolutions that would impose if not legal, but the social and moral liability on the participants.

This will give totally different status to such events. Oilers can only benefit from such informational transparency. "Moral Responsibility" probably can be achieved, in particular, by media accompaniment of such events. In this sense, the role and importance of regional and federal mass media in maintaining the ecological balance will be very noticeable.

Investment and environment.

We believe that the mechanisms to minimize environmental risks should be laid at the stage of the investment project formation. For example, the company has won a tender to develop the field. For example, investment in its development is estimated to $ 100 million. It is advisable to legislate a fixed percentage on environmental measures. It should be impressive, for example, it may be an amount of 5%. So it is 5 million from 100 million. And then these millions are divided into two parts, also regulated by law. Some part is spent on laboratory and field tests and trials, controlled by a competent and independent expert group.

Environmental deposit.

The second part of the environmental segment of the investment project is a kind of deposit that can be kept in a special bank account. If the company avoid spills, explosions and other violations, let’s say, during three years, percent of the deposited amount is starting to return at its account. But it (ie the principal amount) remains untouched until the completion of the project, regulated by the license conditions. If it is not spent, it also returns to the company. This is a clear financial incentive for companies to comply with environmental regulations.

National aspect.

The interregional public movement "Komi Voityr", having the right of legislative initiative, could initiate adoption of similar or other laws. After all, oil spills and other incidents are particularly painful for the rural population of the Komi, significantly reducing the quality of the traditional habitat. "Association of Nenets People "Yasavey", which has considerable experience in the socio-environmental and expert activities, could coordinate such activities in the Nenets Autonomous District.

Arctic vector.

It seems obvious that the Timan-Pechora, in addition to its own commercial value, is an outpost of Russia's move toward oil and gas fields of the Arctic shelf.

The degree of industrial safety, environmental protection and traditional lifestyle of indigenous peoples in the Arctic should be several times higher than in cases with a comfortable natural environment. Therefore, it is hardly necessary to prove that the development of the Arctic shelf requires very specific engineering, technology, transportation, and legal approaches.

Let us remember Fukushima: there was an acute situation during the earthquake and tsunami, but still the degree of strength of the NPP was such that it managed to avoid the worst. Otherwise, humanity would face technological, environmental and humanitarian disaster of such magnitude that the British Petroleum accident in the Gulf of Mexico would have seemed a child's play. It is obvious that special precautions, multiple laboratory and field testing are also required for the Arctic offshore projects.

Is that possible without examination?

In this respect, the recent attempt of the deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation to introduce draft abolishing environmental impact assessment for the Arctic shelf caused a concern. I deliberately factor out the moral aspect of this initiative. But there is also a pragmatic side: effective development of hydrocarbon of the Arctic shelf of the northern seas is hardly possible without broad international cooperation.

Actual and potential partners of Rosneft, Gazprom and possibly Lukoil to develop the Arctic shelf are, first of all, the American Exxon Mobile, Anglo-Dutch Shell, Norwegian Statoil Hidro, American Conoco Filips. These companies won’t work on the Russian Arctic shelf (their national legislation don’t allow it), if the projects are preceded by environmental assessment and accompanied by the most serious measures in the field of industrial safety. There is a high confidence that the resumption of international cooperation in the Arctic is not far off. And it is necessary to prepare vigorously for this now.

Who will work on the shelf?

Under current law, only state Rosneft and Gazprom can work on the Arctic shelf. There is some logic. But adequate political flexibility should be taken due to dramatically changed circumstances. It lies in the fact that private companies, of course, should provide an opportunity to develop oil and gas deposits on the Arctic shelf. This, of course, is primarily about Lukoil. Company of Vagit Alekperov has a wonderful experience in the Caspian, Black and Baltic Seas. As well as the experience of cooperation with reputable foreign partners, primarily with the US Conoco Filips.

Training centers.

In any event it is necessary to pay special attention to the training and retraining of Russian specialists, focused on participation in offshore projects. I am sure that the task can successfully cope Ukhta State Technical University (Ukhta State Technical University), Northern (Arctic) Federal University (NArFU), Moscow Humanitarian and Environmental Institute. Perhaps these (and some other) universities could combine efforts in the Arctic industrial and environmental program focused on international standards.

Momentous meeting.

Most recently new CEO "LUKOIL - Komi" Alexander Leyfrid visited the Ukhta University (Ukhta State Technical University) and its museum; he held intensive and, according to press reports, successful consultation with the Rector of Ukhta State Technical University, Professor Nikolay Tshadai. There is a reason to believe that the issues of industrial safety and environment were on the agenda during the meeting of the two leaders. This makes expert and scientific community, environmental and national-cultural associations optimistic towards cooperation of enterprise and university. It will have a positive impact on the situation in the Timan-Pechora and the Arctic prospects of the Russian Federation.

Vladimir Gudovichev, director of the Institute of Language, Literature, History of KSC of the RAS Igor Zherebtsov and Dmitry Nesanelis before the plenary session

The economic prospects of the Nenets Autonomou Area. Vladimir Gudovichev. Chairman of the Board of Directors of "RegmonStroyGaz".

Political victory.

The most promising oil and gas projects in the Timan-Pechora are now implemented in the Nenets Autonomous Area. Suffice to mention deposits of Titov and Trebs, developed by "Bashneft - Pole". Let me remind you, this joint venture was created by Bashneft and Lukoil, the main user of mineral resources in the NAD.

It is noteworthy that despite the legal excesses the license to these strategic deposits remained at "Bashneft - pole". Vice-president and co-owner of Lukoil Leonid Fedun rightly pointed out that the extension of the license is a political victory, which says that private companies have equal opportunities with the state ones in modern Russia.

When sanctions will weaken.

As I know, serious foreign observers also believe this. This is important because after the inevitable weakening and subsequent cancellation of sanctions western and eastern partners will immediately return to the implementation of projects joint with Russian structures. In my opinion, first of all, it relates to initiatives in the Russian Arctic shelf.

One of the conditions for successful movement to the shelf is a sustainable economic and social situation in the Nenets Autonomous Area and the Murmansk region, major geographical and technological areas of the Russian Arctic vector of the economy.

Ideas of Vladimir Blank.

In this regard, special attention should be paid to a recent interview with the First Vice-Governor of NAD Vladimir Blank to the newspaper "Naryana Vinder" (26 February 2015). In a very difficult economic situation the district management, according to the interview, is earnestly seeking for regional economic growth vectors. Obviously, when the situation constrains the use of market mechanisms, the role of point and verified administrative actions is growing.

By my own production experience, I can say that a union of efforts of power, small (and medium) business and banks produces a good effect. Preferably, the state ones with special programs to support small and medium-sized enterprises, anyway financed from the budget.

Major small businesses, according to fair remark of Blank, "employed in bulldozers and tractors", and support of their work on infrastructure projects gives a double effect. In the county program to support small and medium-sized businesses it is said to subsidize part of the interest rates on loans. But, unfortunately, only in a general way, without describing a specific implementation mechanism. It should be noted that the construction of infrastructure facilities in the county is seasonal with all its attendant problems, intractable without closing of inevitable due to the seasonality cash shortages.

Development is impossible without banks.

It seems to me, that these difficulties can be removed, if the county will be based on systematic cooperation with one of the state banks (preferably with VTB-24, specifically oriented to work with SMEs). Powerful financial structure will significantly hedge the company experiencing a problem with cash shortages.

Creation of the Consultative Council with the participation of representatives of the district administration, banking, financial experts, SMEs will bring another great benefit. Such council will, apparently, professionally examine and select projects for lending. This administrative measure will encourage banks to think more about their roles and obligations to support small and medium sized businesses. Our company LLC "REGIONSTROYGAZ" is itself the subject of small and medium-sized businesses. We successfully gasify various regions of Russia. And we are ready not only to "advise", but also actively work together with all those to whom this approach seems promising.

Corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Head of the Vernadsky Fund Vladimir Grachev:

“I really like the idea of ​​an ecological component in investment projects. I absolutely support the proposals for the so-called "environmental deposit". I honestly don’t know if there is such thing in any country, and now I am going to study it; of course, we don’t have it yet. If you really take the position that every company that is beginning to drill and produce oil and takes some investment project, investors should invest its part in so-called "environmental deposit".

And I would even develop this idea. That there could be more percent than, let’s say, a bank discount rate. Now, some banks give 14.4% for deposits, state-owned banks - 10-12%. And if, for example, to give 20 percent for this environmental deposit, but to pay only if they don’t violate anything. And if something is violated, the deposit body itself should cover losses related to the violation of environmental protection and environmental safety. In my opinion, the idea is very sensible.”


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