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BBC Monitoring Service (UK): Kazakh greens urge government to restrict oil extraction in Caspian

Published: Jan 28, 2007

Text of report by Kazakh Channel 31 TV on 25 January

[Presenter] The Caspian Sea is facing an environmental disaster. This statement was made during public discussions in Aktau. Local environmentalists say that the careless attitude of oil producing companies is behind such an unpleasant forecast. They urged the government to limit the extraction of oil.

[Correspondent] Aktau environmentalists demand that oil extraction should be stopped in the Caspian Sea. They say it is necessary to carry out an independent survey of the impact of oil production on the environment. The environmentalists suspect that oil companies conceal the real scope of contamination. Therefore, the Greens suggested the government to limit off-shore oil production at least by half.

[Adilbek Kazybakov, the chairman of the board of the Mangistau Tabigaty (the Nature of Mangistau), public association] The Caspian Sea is a closed natural reservoir, which has no connection with oceans. Therefore, the process of self-recovery will take a very long time. In this connection, it is better to avoid any human interference in the environmental system of the sea.

[Correspondent] Oil producing companies do not share concerns of the Aktau environmentalists. In the nearest future, the Pearl, a new [oil] field, will be developed in the Mangistau part of the Caspian Sea. The investors are convinced that [oil] extraction will not cause damage to the environment.

[Kuralbek Keldzhanov, the deputy managing director of the Shell Kazakhstan] We think that we will not cause damage to the nature. I cannot provide you with any figures at the moment because we have not yet started operations to extract oil.

[Correspondent] According to the estimates of fishery experts, the population of sturgeon species in the Caspian Sea has reduced almost by 90 per cent. The environmentalists relate the problem to oil production. Seals and birds are also regularly dying in the Caspian Sea. The experts think that it is necessary to limit off-shore oil extraction strictly in order to avoid an environmental disaster.

[Video shows Adilbek Kazybakov and Kuralbek Keldzhanov being interviewed.]

Source: Channel 31 TV, Almaty, in Russian 1500 gmt 25 Jan 06

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