Gazprom-commissioned environmental study gives nod to Shtokman drilling

Publish date: September 13, 2006

Specialists from the Kola Science Centre and the Murmansk Biological Institute last week presented an environmental assessment study of the Shtokman gas project to Gazprom’s scientific subsidiary, the Gidrospetsgaz company.

The 800 page preliminary report, which – according to the B-port,com news agency – was commissioned by Gidrospetsgaz, describes possible consequences from the construction of drilling facilities and pipelines in the fragile underwater Arctic region, the Barents Observer website reported.

“The development of the Shtokman project can not harm environment on the Kola Peninsula,” research leader Anatoly Vinogradov said, according to Barents Observer website.

The veracity of this asertion however, will not be determined by Vinogradov, and will be challenged in a series of Bellona-arranged public hearings in the concerned areas.

Gazprom has long been eyeing the Shtokman gas fields as a potential cash bonanza for foreign and domestic oil giants and has been actively seeking investors for over two years now. It is therefore to be expected that the current Gidrospetsgaz study would paint the Shtokman project in a positive light.

The hearings will be held in three regions of Russia¬ – the Murmansk Region, the Leningrad Region and Karelia. The Murmansk region itself will hold hearings in three cities: Kandalaksha on September 18th, Apatita on September 19th and Olenogorsk on September 20th.

Vinogradov said the development of the field would require unique technologies for complex terrain in order to develop it for gas and oil drilling.

“This is a huge national industrial process,” he told the Barents Observer. He added that the project envisions production and transport of gas in such quantities that have never been seen in any petroleum producing area before, the website reported.

Vinogradov says there are complicated elements linked with the laying of the planned gas pipeline from the Murmansk region to the Leningrad region, but that this can easily be solved. He also said that the area of the Kola Peninsula had already been thoroughly explored by researchers, laying the groundwork for the entire project, said the Barents Observer.