Spills in Mexico Gulf will not affect Russian offshore plans

Photo: Gazflot

Russia has the world’s strictest regulations on offshore oil production, but lags seriously behind with regard to emergency preparedness, a leading official in the country’s main environmental watchdog says.

In an interview with newspaper Izvestia, leader of the marine division in the Russian Environmental Control Agency (Rosprirodnadzor) says Russia today probably has the world’s strictest environmental regulations for oil companies operating on the shelf.

-We have set course towards “zero spills” of toxic materials to the sea. That is something they do not have even in Norway, Vasily Bogoslovsky told the newspaper.

He underlines that Russian authorities do not intend to abstain from petroleum exploration and production offshore – that this development on the contrary is a priority for the country. However, new technology must be developed and oil production conducted in the most environmentally friendly manner possible, Bogoslovsky said.

He admits that Russia has a long way to go before emergency preparedness at sea is appropriate, and especially highlights the lack of a fleet of specialized environmental protection vessels. Thus, when the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in 2009 leaked more than 50,000 of diesel oil into the waters outside Ireland, Russia had no equipment to localize the spill and needed help from an Irish vessel.

-Unfortunately, we do not have this kind of vessels. Our great maritime power does not have a single environmental protection vessel, which could as much as reach an offshore oil platform, Bogoslovsky complains. The lack of the specialized vessels also makes it impossible for Russian environmental authorities to do independent controls of the offshore oil and gas producers, he adds.

Russia has big plans for the development of offshore hydrocarbon fields, and the most promising fields are located in Arctic waters. The country’s first offshore oil field – the Prirazlomnoe – is planned put in production in 2011.