More about the Oil and Gas Sector
What We Do
The oil and gas industry is a “leader” among other sectors of the Russian economy in terms of its impact on the environment. However, this sector makes up the backbone of the Russian economy today and in the medium-term perspective. «The Energy Strategy of Russia for the period until 2030» approved by the Russian government provides for a significant increase in crude oil and other non-renewable natural resources production and export. It implies that new environmental problems and risks will inevitably arise due to accidents, emissions and discharges of pollutants, fragmentation of landscapes, etc.
WWF’s goal is to prevent and reduce the negative impact of the oil and gas sector on the environment, first of all in WWF Russia priority places like Arctic by stimulating companies to become more environmentally responsible and switch this sector to renewables in the long-term perspective. WWF Russia focuses its efforts on the following activities:
- Environmental rating of oil and gas companies
- Reduction of associated petroleum gas flaring
- Oil spill prevention and response
- Independent assessment of the oil and gas projects in WWF priority ecoregions
Environmental Rating of Oil and Gas Companies
In 2014 WWF Russia and CREON Energy initiated a project to rate oil and gas companies in Russia according to their level of environmental transparency and responsibility (https://wwf.ru/en/what-we-do/green-economy/ekologicheskiy-reyting-neftegazovykh-kompaniy-rf-sovmestnyy-proekt-wwf-i-kreon/). The overall objective of the Rating is to promote the effective use of hydrocarbon resources, environmental protection and socially responsible business practices in Russia. As a result, consumers, insurance companies and lenders can get objective information about impacts and risks and give preference to companies causing less environmental damage and striving to green their activities.
2014-2017 successive annual ratings show that implementing ‘soft’ responsibility mechanisms can improve environmental responsibility standards and transparency in oil & gas industry (E. Shvarts, et al. Environmental rating of oil and gas companies in Russia: How assessment affects environmental transparency and performance. Business Strategy and the Environment, 2018; 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1002/bse.2049).
Oil and gas companies resist the most to disclose information on environment-related emergency situations, accidents and conflicts. In order to address this sensitive issue WWF-Russia has initiated regular (quarterly and annual) reviews on disputed (conflict) situations and accidents/incidents in the oil and gas industry based on open (i.e. available online) information sources. Before publishing in the public domain, the companies are given a chance to provide clarifying information for a draft review. In such a way an unbiased database of environmental conflicts and accidents in the oil and gas industry is being developed which helps to raise public awareness and address the issue of environmental conflict resolution.
Reduction of Associated Petroleum Gas Flaring
The flaring of associated petroleum gas (APG) is one of the most pressing environmental problems of the Russian oil and gas sector as the volume of APG flaring in our country is the largest in the world. APG flaring damages the environment, it contributes to air pollution and the greenhouse effect, including Black carbon, causing harm to public health as well as to the country’s economy since the valuable chemical raw materials and energy resources are simply wasted.
APG flaring is a high priority problem for the Russian authorities and civil society. WWF Russia provides independent monitoring of APG utilization and flaring since 2008 (https://wwf.ru/what-we-do/green-economy/the-problem-of-associated-gas/, in Russian). There was a decrease in the volume flared by Russian oil and gas companies from 2008 till 2014 followed by an increase in flaring till 2017. In July 2018 the World bank published APG data for 30 countries (http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2018/07/17/new-satellite-data-reveals-progress-global-gas-flaring-declined-in-2017) which shows that in 2017 the overall volume flared decreased by 7.1 billion cubic meters, Russia providing the major input to this decrease – 2.5 billion cubic meters. Thus, dynamic public campaign initiated by WWF Russia has resulted in the desired outcome.
Oil Spills Prevention and Response
To address the issue of prevention and response to oil spills WWF-Russia takes proactive efforts:
- to bring the best expertise from around the globe to strengthen capacity in oil spill response (in the field of oiled wildlife rescue and practical tools to plan timely and efficient responses to oil spills),
- to train volunteers to help oil spill responders,
- to promote development of corporate programs for wildlife rescue in oil and gas companies,
- to raise public awareness on the issue.
Independent Assessment of the Oil and Gas projects in WWF Priority Ecoregions
Environmental impact assessment (EIA) documentation of a project should be available to the public. This is a mandatory condition for a company developing an oil and/or gas project in Russia. However, companies are often reluctant to disclose and discuss EIA with their stakeholders. WWF Russia invests efforts to address the issue. As a result, positive dynamics in EIA disclosure is observed. For example, during the four years of the Rating of oil and gas companies the EIA disclosures have increased twofold - 7 companies in 2013 and 14 companies in 2015 published EIA materials in the public domain.
In the last few years the number of large oil spills, volumes of associated gas flared and overall negative impact from the industry has decreased. Nevertheless, several disputable projects are being developed which can negate WWF and other CSOs nature protection efforts in the key ecoregions. WWF Russia has and will initiate public campaigns against such projects – for example, oil and gas development offshore Sakhalin island (https://wwf.ru/what-we-do/green-economy/oil-and-gas-projects-and-their-threats/oil-and-gas-projects-on-the-sakhalin-shelf/, in Russian), offshore oil exploration in the Kamchatka shelf (https://wwf.ru/what-we-do/green-economy/oil-and-gas-projects-and-their-threats/oil-or-salmon-the-future-of-kamchatka/, in Russian), oil and gas development in the Arctic (https://wwf.ru/what-we-do/green-economy/oil-and-gas-projects-and-their-threats/arctic/, in Russian).