OIL SPILL RESPONSE TRAINING IN THE ARCTIC HAS BROKEN NEW GROUND
It has taken many years to achieve the possibility of participation of the general public in emergency oil spill response training. This work involved prompting oil and gas companies to become more transparent, specifically on the matters of informing the interested parties and the broader community on both the companies' readiness to respond to oil spills and the emergencies themselves as well as the measures to tackle them.
"For over 10 years, WWF-Russia has been contributing to increasing the companies' readiness to tackling emergency oil spills, which among all requires higher corporate responsibility," said Aleksey Knizhnikov, Head of the Program for the Business Environmental Responsibility at WWF-Russia. "Now, we have ensured that oil spill emergency response plans become available to the public. Since 2018, we prepare an annual environmental rating that includes accessing if oil companies are willing to invite members of the public to their emergency training as observers."
On August 6, 2019, Kharyaginskoye oil field held large-scale emergency training exercises aimed to check the readiness of freelance emergency response teams of Zarubezhneft-Production Kharyaga LLC and practice the actions of production workers when detecting and eliminating an artificial oil spill occurred as a result of rupture of an oil export pipeline. According to the exercise script, 5 cubic meters of oil was spilled in a river and spread down the river with the current. To eliminate the emergency, the workers promptly sealed the rupture in the pipeline, set up containment booms on either sides of the river, collected the oil from the water surface using oil skimmers, and protected the coastline with sorbent.
"The emergency training of Zarubezhneft-Production Kharyaga has shown high levels of professionalism of the emergency team that managed to detect the artificial spill in two hours instead of the target four. In the future, we would like to witness similar training under poor visibility conditions and during the winter," said Aleksey Knizhnikov.
This event has shown an example of an oil and gas company transparent to the public. Apart from members of WWF-Russia, other observers of the training included representatives of Reindeer Herders Union of Nenets Autonomous District and members of the local social movement Association of Nenets People "Yasavey."