Environmental safety assurance is one of the main components of the sustainable development of the territory.

It applies in full to the realization of large oil-and-gas projects in the northern environment, like the project of development of the Shtokman gas-condensate field (ShGCF) in the Barents Sea and at the Kola Peninsula.

Environmental support of hydrocarbon field development projects includes the following interrelated stages: environmental engineering surveys, development of the environmental sections (Environmental Protection Section, Environmental Impact Assessment) as part of design documentation, development and realization of the Environmental monitoring programs, Environmental Due Diligence audit of the company.

The environmental engineering survey (EES) stands at the beginning of this chain; it should provide the project designers and license holders with the information on the baseline (background) environmental status of the territory, which will be affected in the course of construction and operation of the facility. The more detailed and true is the information on the territory of the planned facility location collected during the EES, the more probable will be deliberate and Environmentally correct decision making in respect of construction, operation and abandonment of the designed facility in the future. It is important to assess not only the status of natural ecosystems, but also level of their actual man-induced transformation as result of the previous economic activity, as well as actual environmental risks and restrictions.

In the case of ShGCF development, we deal with a very large and environmentally diverse object – offshore zone of the field license area, more than 500 km of the subsea pipeline route passing over various parts of the Barents Sea, on-shore area of construction of the LNG plant and surrounding littoral and sublittoral zones. All these diverse natural ecosystems will be affected in the course of preparatory, construction work and operation of the Shtokman field. These facts conditioned the integrated approach to the EES in the framework of the Shtokman project, and they also require a similar approach to the consequent stages of the Environmental support and Environmental monitoring in particular.

3 large packages were identified within the EES including the land (onshore) EES, coastal EES and offshore EES. FRECOM was selected as the general contractor for environmental surveys. To perform the EES work package including various surveys, ranging from radiological to social ones, FRECOM put together a group of contractors, first of all, core regional research and scientific-production organizations having broad experience of operations in the region and particularly in the zone of ShGCF development – PINRO, AMIGE, Murmansk hydro-meteorological service, and also organizations from other regions – NPO Typhoon, Urangeo, Institute of the History of Material Culture of the Russian Academy of Science, etc.

A separate task was to generalize a large data array available on the environmental situation in the ShGCF zone, and especially in its offshore part, and to use this data. In the course of the surveys, the EES program for all three packages has undergone corrections and extension as result of continuous analysis at the Scoping workshops.

Offshore and coastal EES were performed with participation of the PINRO research fleet. Observations were carried out during all 4 seasons of 2008 with the special attention paid to the following aspects: fishery value of the area, high level of the biological diversity and productivity at the area of ShGCF and pipeline route; intensive navigation and presence of the Navy bases in the given region as potential pollution sources. The researchers performed oceanographic, hydrochemical surveys, survey of the bottom sediments, hydrobiological surveys of all groups of marine organisms, including neuston as the most vulnerable group in case of possible accidents and consequent pollution, surveys of avifauna of the offshore and coastal areas.

Coastal strip from the Dolgaya bay to the Opasova bay as the zone of the potential project impact was studied separately.

Land EES were performed in 2007-2008 as a part of the integrated engineering surveys and covered the area from the settlement of Teriberka-Lodeinoye to the Opasova bay. Current status of all components of the ecosystems was studied on this territory, including on-shore water bodies, with detailed evaluation of the geochemical and radio-Environmental situation. The main aspects of on-shore surveys included the following: identification of rare and protected flora and fauna species, valuable and vulnerable biotopes and landscapes, fishery assessment, in particular for water bodies of the spawning significance, and recommendations on its preservation, study of the hazardous exogenous processes. Assessment of the biodiversity of the territory was done; bio-indicative methods (study of soil mesofauna) were used among other ones.

A separate EES package included social studies. They are performed in line with Russian legal requirements and recommendations of the international financial institutions. These studies should make the basis for the social monitoring and social policy of the license holders in the region of the Shtokman project. Analysis of the results of questioning and inquiry in the settlements, statistic data and archive materials will make it possible to identify the social risks, project expectations of the local population, outline the ways for the mutually beneficial cooperation. In addition, complete historical and archaeological survey of the territory was performed with record of archaeological and historic-cultural objects.

All the data collected in the course of realization of three EES packages will make the informational basis for the comprehensive Environmental monitoring of the whole zone of ShGCF impact, making it possible to compare natural and social environment status at the consequent stages of the project with the initial one, before the impact.



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