Kazakhstan addresses ecological problems of subsurface oil and gas users

Oct 10, 2008 02:00 AM

Kazakhstan, one of the largest oil and gas producers, faces many serious ecological problems in the sphere of ecological problems today.
According to the Concept of transition of the Republic of Kazakhstan to sustainable development for 2007-2024 adopted by the President's Decree as of Nov 14, 2006, # 216, long lasted pollution, wastes storage tanks, growing toxic emissions from stationary and mobile sources jeopardize environment and population's health. In this view, the Concept provides application of economic tools of environmental protection, including realization of the principle of "pollutant pays". The principle means that every subsurface user should be responsible for financing of the projects on protection of the environment and compensation of possible ecological damage or it should waive its activity.

Chairman of the Committee on ecological regulation and control of the Ministry of Environmental Protection Murat Rakhimbergenov focused namely on this issue speaking at a seminar in Almaty organized by Kazakhstan Petroleum Association under the support of ERM Eurasian Limited GGFR Partnership, the World Bank.
The event was attended by the heads of state bodies, consulting companies, domestic and foreign companies-subsurface users. The seminar was held within KIOGE "Oil and Gas 2008" 16th Kazakhstan International Exhibition.

In his report "Ecological problems of oil and gas sector and ways of their solution", Mr Rakhimbergenov told about key problems and priorities connected with ecological regulation and control over the work of oil and gas enterprises.
"Sharp growth of hydrocarbons production in recent years negatively affects West Kazakhstan's ecological situation. Especially we are concerned about that the problem is connected with activity of oil and gas companies located in preserved area of the Northern Caspian Sea", he said.

Mr Rakhimbergenov noted that drilling operations do not rule out possibility of emergency situations and uniqueness of the Caspian Sea raisesthe problem of response to emergency situations to the global level. Thus, development of plans and programs on response is not only a national but also an international issue.
Mr Rakhimbergenov also touched upon the issue of construction of a North-Caspian Oil Spills Response Base in Atyrau region. As is known, the project was rejected by the Environmental Protection Ministry since the construction site was located in preserved area and water protection zone of the Caspian Sea and the Ural River.

"I think that those subsoil users, who get profit from exploitation of the Caspian minefield, must take an active part in the solution of this issue. If environmental accidents take place, it will be negatively reflected in the process of exploitation of natural resources and put into question all oil activities conducted in the region", the Chairman emphasized.
According to him, it is necessary to create a special fund, which will abandon wells. Everyone who is interested in the ecological stability in the Caspian Sea can participate in the work of the fund.

Kazakh oil consists of a big number of scrape, Mr Rakhimbergenov noted. Million tons of this material is gathered in TengizChevrOil company. The Ministry of Environmental Protection takes a tough stand on this issue and claims to liquidate all reserves in the shortest term.
"Oil extraction in Kazakhstan becomes a cause of formation of pollution focus of natural environment. Different oil traps, technological stores and others are not put into order in our enterprises", Mr Rakhimbergenov said. "Such issues should get off the ground", he added.

The Chairman told the seminar's attendants about tough requirements for obtaining licensees/permissions from ecological bodies.
The permissions will be given only with analysis of materials on execution of environmental protection activities and exploration of limits for the previous year, prospect on development of enterprise and efficiency of the projects.

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