Speaking at an oil and gas conference this month, Head of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Igor Fyodorov, stressed that the village of Amderma on the coast of the Pechora Sea should become the centre for a new search and emergency unit in the region. –Today, the closest emergency rescue service for oil spills are located 1000 km away in Murmansk, Fyodorov highlighted at the conference Russian Shelf 2011. –It is clear, that these services must be establish far closer to the area, he stressed.
The oil-rich Nenets AO is becoming the centre for offshore oil and gas projects in the Pechora Sea. Already in 2012, Gazprom intends to start up production at the Prirazlomnoye oil field. Other regional fields, among them the Dolginskoye, Medynskoye-More and Varandey-More are in the planning. The field development will require land-based facilities, not only for search and rescue activities, but also for the construction and production processes.
As previously reported by BarentsObserver, the Russian Railways in its development plan for the period until year 2030 has included the construction of a railway line to Amderma, as well as to Indiga, another village on the Pechora Sea coast. Several companies see Amderma as the best suited base alternative for the offshore oil and gas activities in the region, regional leader Fyodorov argued in his conference speech. The town has existing infrastructure, housing and an airport capable of handling big-size aircrafts, he underlined, a report from the Sozvezdye Review posted on the regional site of the Nenets AO informs.
At the same time, the Nenets administration fears possible environmental consequences from the industrial activities. The Deep Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico showed possible worst-case scenarios. A similar spill in the Pechora Sea could get far worse consequences, experts say. The shallow waters in the region and the strong flows from regional rivers like the Pechora could spread spilled oil over major parts of the Arctic.
Sergei Fyodorov calls for the strengthening of emergency services in the Nenets AO, and at the same time highlights the need for enhanced attention to the challenges ahead. –We are not yet ready for the development of the Arctic shelf, he says.