WWF compares Nord Stream with other Gazprom projects
“Gazprom is environmentally responsible on the western market, but in Russia, low level of the civil society development and legal nihilism of the state allow it to ignore not only international standards, but even the laws of the Russian Federation”, says Alexey Knizhnikov, WWF-Russia oil and gas environmental policy officer. “However, double standards can bring Gazprom negative economic results on European environmentally sensitive markets”.
“Only a unified approach in corporate policies can ensure a responsible reputation for the company and increase its competitiveness on the market”, says Alexey Knizhnikov.
The Nord Stream offshore pipeline, which will be launched tomorrow to export natural gas from Russia to Europe, is praised by environmental groups. The project will help increase share of natural gas in the world’s fuel balance as a transitional fuel towards a low carbon future and a substitute for coal and nuclear power. The project was designed and implemented on the basis of best international standards, including the Espoo Convention. The company held consultations with both governments and NGOs of the Baltic states, and took into account their recommendations. All project documents, including the environmental impact assessment, were published on the web. The pipeline construction started only when the project was approved by all interested parties.
However, in Russia, a number of Gazprom projects are characterized by information secrecy, noncooperation with NGOs and even direct violations of the Russian law and international obligations, says WWF in a statement published on its official website today. WWF names the most environmentally dangerous projects: Prirazlomnoye oil field development in the Pechora sea, exploratory drilling on the continental shelf of Western Kamchatka, and preparatory work for the construction of the Altai gas pipeline.
According to WWF, Gazprom Neft Shelf, an oil unit of Gazprom, refused to give NGOs access to the Prirazlomnoye project documents, including the EIA, Industrial Security Declaration, and oil cleanup plans. The NGOs wanted to study the documents in order to organize a public environmental expertise of the project.
In early September, Gazprom broke federal legislation by starting exploratory drilling of the Pervoocherednaya well on the Western Kamchatka Shelf in spite of the negative opinion of the State Environmental Review. After the information was published by NGOs and media, the operating company (ArcticMorNefteGazRazvedka) deleted the news about starting the drilling from its website, and Russia’s environmental watchdog – Rosprirodnadzor – deleted the information about the negative opinion of the State Environmental Expertise from its official website.
A similar situation is developing around the Altai gas pipeline project, says WWF. According to the letter signed by the deputy minister of natural resources and environment of Russia on July 21, 2011, the project across the Ukok plateau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, “contradicts the Russian legislation on specially protected natural areas, and Russian international obligations”. According to the letter of the deputy head of the Rozsprirodnadzor on September 26, 2011, “the project documents for the Altai gas pipeline necessary to organize and conduct the state environmental expertise have not been provided”. However, the preparatory work for the construction of the pipeline has already begun, before the approval of the state expertise, which contradicts the Russian law.