SOKOLOV V.I., SOKOLOVAS.A. Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography, Russia

Immense resources, high prices, and advancement in technologies for production and transportation of fuel make promising the projects which are connected with development of offshore fields in such areas as the Barents, the Pechora, the Kara, and the Chukchi seas, as well as the Sea of Okhotsk. First oil developments in such rigorous climate have been undertaken off the Eastern Sakhalin (projects Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2). These pioneer works have provided us with tremendous expertise not only in the sphere of prospecting, drilling, and transportation of oil, but also in issues of monitoring, ecological surveys, and assessment of damage to the living resources caused by oil companies.

Russian Federal Research Institute of Fisheries & Oceanography (VNIRO) has participated in all those developments on the Eastern Sakhalin shelf. Thus, within Sakhalin-1 project VNIRO prepared Protection of Aquatic Fisheries Resources chapter for section on Environmental Protection (Stage 1 - Feasibility Studies) in accordance with requirements set out in the Russian Federation Law on Environmental protection and existing regulations and rules. While preparing this chapter our researchers integrated the monitoring observations acquired by VNIRO and SakhNIRO in areas of prospecting and drilling works.

Materials of the feasibility studies included, inter alia, characteristics of living resources in the inland water basins which fell within the development areas (e.g. rivers crossed by the pipeline in Sakhalin and in the Khabarovsk Territory); characteristics of marine living resources (e.g. on the north-eastern shelf of Sakhalin, in Chaivo Bay, Odoptu Bay, Nevelsk Strait, Chikhachev Bay, and in Tartar Strait). VNIRO provided general fishery characteristics of water basins within areas of oil production: the landing statistics; the basin productivity and ecosystem dynamics; presence of fishing grounds allocated for coastal fisheries, their borders and principal features of these fisheries; data on spawning grounds of salmon and other fish species (location, area, efficiency of natural reproduction, etc.). Finally, the VNIRO experts have developed a forecast of a possible impact of the oil production on marine fishing stocks and on living resources in the inland waters. They also assumed a case of irreversible damage to aquatic living resources (under trouble-free operation) and costs of appropriate mitigating /restoration measures.

Development and implementation of the Complex Program of Monitoring and Survey of the Okhotsk/Korean Population of Grey Whales in the Sakhalin Waters became a separate issue within the scientific support for projects Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2. In order to increase efficiency and provide a better coordination of activities, the principal role in planning, coordination, and organization of these activities was imposed on VNIRO which, in cooperation with other research institutes, accomplished a set of studies aimed at identification of impact that the oil field development could have on these whale species and their habitat (primarily, on their feeding stocks, i.e. benthic organisms). Special attention was paid to potential influence on grey whales of technogeneous factors, relating to oil production, particularly, influence of constant low-frequency noise associated with extraction activities.

At the same time, in cooperation with SakhNIRO, VNIRO developed Industrial Program for Monitoring of Living Resources and Habitat in Areas of Hydrocarbon Production on the North-eastern Sakhalin Shelf for 2002-2003 and determined objectives, tasks, scope and methodology of surveys of aquatic living resources and their habitat to specify fisheries categories
accounting for oil and gas production on the north-eastern Sakhalin shelf. These surveys were essentially different from the "local monitoring" made by Roshydromet off the drilling and production platforms because the former were performed in the interests of the regional fisheries sector. There are several causes why the "local monitoring" does not meet requirements of conservation and protection of the shelf living resources and mitigating technogenous impact.

The background monitoring allowed VNTRO to achieve general objectives connected with the Sakhalin shelf development: 1. to assess the state of fishery stocks and other living resources as the principal components of marine ecosystems: 2. to establish a set of measures to sustain productive capacity of aquatic living resources under any activities both on the shelf, and in the inshore waters; 3. to achieve the balance between interests of fishing and oil and gas industries while allowing for increase in scales of hydrocarbon production and transportation in marine waters. At present the outcome of these research works form the bases for decision making and establishment of regulation measures, including changes in production and technological sphere; updating of limits and criteria connecting with discharge of industrial sewage and drilling waters in water basins; underpinning, where appropriate, for legal and other restrictive, preventive, and mitigating measures.

VNIRO did a great lot to include in the materials of the Sakhalin-2 feasibility studies an assessment of damage to the aquatic living resources which takes into account the negative impact caused by construction and exploitation of principal development projects in the coastal zone and on the marine shelf of Sakhalin, i.e. a gas liquefaction plant, a terminal for oil shipping, an integrated onshore technological complex; oil compressor plant 2, a gas-distribution station, pipeline routes (marine and onshore), constructors settlements, driveways along the pipeline routes, approaches and bridges, as well as marine dock facilities for the gas liquefaction plant in Aniva Bay (for three dredging scenarios of different duration time); the deposit site for the spoil, and the discharge site for the sewage from constructors settlements.

In 2002, on request of Sibneft, and in collaboration with the Chukchi affiliate (TINRO), VNIRO made surveys within the framework of the Ecological Monitoring of Oil Prospecting on the Shelf of Anadyr Bay (the Bering Sea) program. Observations obtained during these surveys were sufficient to develop an assessment of the environmental impact of drilling.

In 2005, in collaboration with the Magadan NIRO, VNIRO developed a program of Ecological Monitoring in the Magadan Coastal Zone and completed its first stage.

Since 2006, VNIRO starts to work on Program of Assessment of the Background State and Significance for Fisheries of the Ob' Inlet in the region of the Ob', Kamennomysk, andNorth-Kamennomysk Licensed Sites in accordance with the Monitoring Program developed in collaboration with Gosrybcenter,
Recently VNTRO, in cooperation with SevPINRO, has prepared a project named Assessment of the Contamination Background Levels and Significance for Fisheries of the Pechora Sea Ecosystem in the Area of Dolginsk Oil Field.

Moreover, the last four years VNIRO has been working on the Program of Long-term ecological monitoring in the coastal zone of Kola peninsula which includes, inter alia, comprehensive examination of 16 polygons (survey sites) located in the key areas of the coastal waters.

As to the Barents Sea and the Far East seas, VNIRO continues there its annual studies of major fishing stocks of finfishes and invertebrates using fishing vessels. The VNTRO experts make surveys to determine abundance of crabs, erchinoderms, and shellfish; dynamics of their seasonal and inter-annual distribution in various areas of the Barents and Bering seas, the Sea of Okhotsk, and the Sea of Japan. The obtained observations are used both in setting of the TACs, and in preparation of reports on possibilities and conditions of prospecting, production, and transportation of hydrocarbons on the sea shelves.
In 2004, during the joint cruise of the Russian-Norwegian expedition aboard the R/V F.Nansen, it was for the first time in five decades that the VMRO experts performed a complete set of measurements of organic and mineral nutrients, as well as dissolved and particulate organic matter, and carbohydrates. A grid of thickly located stations allowed experts to plot detailed and explicit maps of distribution for temperature and salinity which were in good correlation with maps of the local currents. Distribution of hydro chemical indicators off Novaya Zemlya Island within the area surveyed from aboard the WV F.Nansen was in good consistency with distribution of salinity and closely related to location of water masses of different genesis.

Toxicological studies performed by VNIRO are aimed at development of fisheries standards for constituents of drilling waters, which are used in northern, Far Eastern, and southern seas of Russia. Overall, there are already about 100 standards developed.

At present our specialists are engaged in activities connected with creation of complex map data bases, i.e. atlases of the ecological and fisheries status of Russian seas (the Barents, White, Pechora, and Caspian seas), applying advanced geoinformational technologies and the ArcViewGIS 8.3 software.
On requests from the Rosrybolovstvo VNIRO prepares numerous reports concerning documentation submitted by the oil and gas companies for approval of their Licensed Contracts to use oil and gas fields in marine waters, or applications concerning geological surveys and industrial activities at Licensed sites.
In accordance with the resolution of the Russian Goscomrybolovstvo Board of 20.11.2002., VNIRO prepared the Concept of Protection of Aquatic Living Resources and their Habitats under Searching, Prospecting, and Developing of Oil and Gas Fields in the Inland Seas, Territorial Waters, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and on the Continental Shelf of Russia. This document will make the foundation for position and requirements of the fishing industry concerning production of hydrocarbons in marine areas at all stages of such activities (i.e. from licensing till closure) and for decision of issues of ecological and fisheries expertise, assessment of impact and mitigating measures as well as control and monitoring in areas of searching, prospecting, and developing of oil and gas fields in marine waters. This concept also covers social and economic aspects of relationship between the oil and gas and the fisheries industries.

Summing up, we should say that VNIRO has accumulated tremendous expertise in carrying out ecological and fisheries studies connected with the resource developments on the shelves of Russian seas.



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