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Government shows concern over TNK-BP activities

April 20, 2012, 13:49 UTC+3

The fact that each year 0.5 million tonnes of oil products get into the Arctic basin’s rivers

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The ministers of natural resources and energy, and after them Prime Minister Vladimir Putin have shown concern over the oil spills on the TNK-BP fields in Western Siberia, Vedomosti writes. He instructed the ministers to “meet and reach an agreement” with the management and shareholders of the company.

“The land is practically flooded with oil. We did not have to look for contamination places, it was necessary to look for territories unaffected by the pollution. Oil rivers, lakes, puddles, carelessly covered traces of emergencies are everywhere,” Minister of Natural Resources Yuri Trutnev described the situation at a meeting in Khanty-Mansiisk. He reported on the results of his trip to the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District with an inspection at Thursday’s meeting of the RF government’s presidium.

The fact that each year 0.5 million tonnes of oil products get into the Arctic basin’s rivers because of the ruptures of the infield and interfiled oil pipelines, were reported by Greenpeace representatives at a meeting of the Council on the Development of Civil Society held in March with the participation of President Dmitry Medvedev, the ministry’s press service head Timur Chernyshev told Vedomosti. Specialists of the Ministry of Natural Resources began to check the information of the ecologists, and then Trutnev went to the Khanty-Mansy District with an inspection to see everything himself on site.

At the presidium meeting the minister said that the activity of TNK-BP was checked first of all, because it has the largest area of polluted land (2,200 hectares), according to the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage (Rosprirodnadzor). The minister visited the site of an oil spill at 4,000 square metres near Samotlor and accused the largest producing enterprise of TNK-BP – Samotlorneftegaz (SNG) of having a pipeline system failing to meet the requirements of environmental safety. TNK-BP had a total of 784 emergencies on its oil fields in 2011, while the competitors – just 20-28 per year, Trutnev told Prime Minister Putin. The main reason for this is the poor condition of pipelines, for the renewal of which the company allocates insufficient funds, the minister concluded, although the company’s financial condition allows it to triple the investments and in just 5-7 years to put its facilities in order. The ministry has already instructed Rosprirodnadzor to prepare a lawsuit against TNK-BP for damages for oil spills in Western Siberia, and the company itself - to prepare a plan for the replacement of pipelines. The Ministry’s claims are not limited to this.

Trutnev was supported by the Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko, who recalled that the TNK dividend policy is “strikingly” different from other companies - both private and public - and it pays virtually all of its profits as dividends. For example, on the 2011 results the company will pay its shareholders about 8 billion US dollars. The company definitely has funds for implementing a program to modernise the pipelines, Shmatko concluded. And Putin has urged his subordinates to act in accordance with the law: “... it is necessary to meet and negotiate with the management and shareholders of the company, using all the tools provided by the law currently in effect.”

TNK-BP has denied all Trutnev’s claims. The company, in accordance with the “plan” is implementing in the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous District a comprehensive program for the modernisation of the pipeline infrastructure, as well as reclamation of the historical heritage lands that had been contaminated during the Soviet period, when the production was built without taking into account the environmental factors, a company representative said.

TNK-BP has already allocated for the implementation of environmental programs about 2.1 billion US dollars, including 285 million dollars for the Samotlor field over the past three years. According to the company official, the number of pipeline ruptures in 2009 decreased by 17 percent, in particular, on the SNG fields. Last year, there were only 413 ruptures (not 784, as the minister claimed). TNK-BP has already eliminated more than half of the spills, and intends to complete the full modernisation of its pipelines in 2019.

All oil companies operating in Western Siberia have about the same situation with oil spills and pipeline ruptures, Greenpeace Russia program director Ivan Blokov said at a meeting with Medvedev in March. However, many ruptures are not registered, Blokov specified.

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