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The Principal Requirement of Petition for the Arctic is Fulfilled
08 september 2016
The government has established moratorium on allocation of new leases in the Arctic shelf to oil companies. Earlier, WWF collected eighty thousand signatures for suspension of new off shore oil projects in this region.
On September 7th, the Russian Minister of Natural Resources, Sergey Donskoy, declared that the Government will set the temporary moratorium on allocation of new off shore leases to oil companies. The complete text of the Minister speech is available on the site of the President of the Russian Federation.
‘WWF welcomes the moratorium; it is the first but very important step towards environmental safety in the Arctic region. We are sure that eighty thousand signatures of the Fund supporters have played a role in taking this decision’, as noted by Alexey Knizhnikov, the Head of Extractive industry Environmental Policy Programm, WWF-Russia. ‘Such suspension of development of new offshore fields would enable more careful preparation and implementation of preventive nature protection measures. Moreover, the main guidelines for development of such measures were already declared in the Order of the President of the Russian Federation in June 2014.’
The key requirement of the WWF petition Arctic Oil Will Wait was a 10-year moratorium for development of new fields in the Arctic shelf. Collection of petition signatures was arranged within the framework of Hour of the Earth in 2015. The Fund stance was supported by more than 80,000 people.
According to WWF, active oil production in the Arctic region threatens the environment. Ecologists argued repeatedly that exploration companies still do not possess efficient solutions, assets and manpower for prompt response and full-scale liquidation of oil spills under icing conditions. The same was proved by spill of oil products in 2015 (Nadezhda tanker, Sakhalin).
The campaign for the moratorium was supported by known experts and scientists. They pointed out that development of the Arctic fields not only implies high environmental risks, but also that it is unprofitable under the conditions of oil low prices. Such projects are not economically feasible, notwithstanding allocation of billions of state subsidies.
The 10-year moratorium promoted by WWF would allow redirecting the state support and funds of the oil and gas companies to more economically favourable and less environmentally hazardous onshore projects. Increase in revenue may be achieved fast and with relatively minor expenses by enhancement of onshore production efficiency (so-called recovery ratio), reduction of losses during transportation (caused by high wear of pipelines) and termination of associated petroleum gas burning.
During moratorium period, there is an opportunity to solve a range of environment protection issues, to prevent or at least minimise negative environmental impact of operations in the Arctic regions. Such measures should include: implementation of strategic environmental assessment (SEA), marine spatial planning, establishment of new protected areas and fishery sanctuaries, development and testing of effective technology and equipment for liquidation of oil spills in icing conditions, improvement of financial tools for indemnification of oil spills damage.
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Oil & Gas Programme Leader