By Georgy Borodyansky
Russia’s oil industry lacks the infrastructure to avoid spills and leaks; and the environmental consequences are horrific.
Russian oil giant Rosneft has dumped on us northerners once again. It’s unlikely that anyone apart from the locals would have heard about the pipeline which burst on the outskirts of Nefteyugansk if photos of the aftermath hadn’t appeared on social media.
The pictures were taken by Andrei Seleznyov, a light aircraft pilot; and the local media, swiftly followed by national TV and press, picked them up after they appeared online on 27 June.
The burst had in fact taken place several days before on 23 June. The pipeline, lying along the bed of a channel at a depth of around three metres, burst at a point about a kilometre outside town, covering a four hectare area of water with a one-millimetre-thick iridescent film.
Nefteyugansk oil spill. Picture taken by Andrei Seleznyov.
This, at least, was the estimate of the damage made by inspectors from Russia’s environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, who visited the site on 2 July, accompanied by the deputy CEO of the Rosneft subsidiary responsible for the pipeline, as well as two independent observers.
According to the Environmental Ministry, the real extent of the spill was in fact impossible to assess. High water levels led to the further dispersal of oil, some of which ended up on the channel’s banks and in the gardens of neighbouring houses. Environmental officers are confident that floating booms will prevent the oil flowing into the nearby massive river Ob, but the real size of the slicks, both in rivers and on dry land, will become clear only after the lifting of gale warnings in the area.
The real extent of the spill