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Itar-Tass: Court to consider watchdog’s appeal over Sakhalin-2 project

17.10.2006, 03.12
MOSCOW, October 17 (Itar-Tass) – Moscow’s Presnensky court on Tuesday will consider the action filed by the Rosprirodnadzor Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources against the Ministry of Natural Resources, demanding overturning of the Ministry’s instruction to endorse the feasibility study of the complex development of the Piltun-Astokhskoye and Lunskoye licensed areas /2nd phase of the Sakhalin-2 project; operator is Sakhalin Energy/.

The action was filed because of the operator’s failure to meet a number of recommendations stated in a concluding report by the state environmental expert examination, as well as numerous deviations from the Sakhalin-2 feasibility study.

For example, contrary to recommendations, a complex of anti-erosion measures has not been brought in conformity with the specifics of local terrain. The recommendations to build anti-erosion facilities have not been fulfilled either.

Rosprirodnadzor says its inspectors, during a check into the compliance with nature protection legislation, arrived at the conclusion that pipeline construction had run with deviations from the feasibility study.

Earlier, the document was given a positive assessment of the State Environmental Expert Examination and envisioned the construction of protecting anti-erosion facilities.

In the course of the check conducted from July 25 until August 20, 2006, Rosprirodnadzor inspectors exposed non-fulfillment of license terms in water use: such as excessive dumping of waste water from the Molikpak platform with an increased content of petroleum products, and repeated failures to submit statistical reports on water use on time.

If Rosprirodnadzor’s suit is not satisfied, the economic and other activities within the framework of the Sakhalin-2 projects will be suspended pending a new conclusion of the State Environmental Expert Examination and elimination of all the breaches of nature protection legislation.

Meanwhile, deputy head of Rosprirodnadzor Oleg Mitvol said Monday Sakhalin-2 checks will continue after the official inspection deadline on October 25.

Mitvol noted such contractors figuring in the inspection report as Starstroi, Kubanneftegazstroi, Lizingstroimash, and Gesheft.

There are many complaints against Sakhalin Energy, he went on to say. In particular, the pipeline’s route deviated from that stated in the project and in accordance with environmental expert examination.

“But this pipe does not have an owner in legal terms at present. If Sakhalin Energy does not acknowledge it as its own, we’ll be looking for the owner of the pipe running through the preserve,” he said.

“In addition, the project operator has no official registration in Russia.” There has been no precise data on how much oil Sakhalin Energy has produced, the official went on to say.

He complained that local Rosprirodnadzor inspectors are often too biased, so one has to enlist people from other regions of the country.

“It’s the only form of obtaining verified information about the real situation,” Mitvol said.

He said breaches of nature protection legislation were detected at two deposits developed by Sakhalinmorneftgaz /a daughter company of Rosneft/. The fields in question are Nogliki and Tsentralnaya Okha.

Environmental damage is estimated at dozens of million dollars.

A complex check of the Sakhalin-1 project will begin on November 9, but Rosprirodnadzor has already begun aerial photography of project premises. “Preliminary data obtained by means of these pictures show that the operators cut swaths in forests which are 2.5 times broader than they should be,” Mitvol said.

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