Will Yukos desecrate the Sanctuaries of Buryatia?
PRAVDA.Ru has already reported about the ambitious intention of oil companies to rush into the oil market of China and settle there. The construction of huge pipeline Angarsk-Daqing is one of the most important aspects of this strategic plan. The pipeline will be built by the Russian oil giant Yukos.
For the time being, oil is carried over to China by railway, via the territory of Mongolia. There are no doubts that Russia is in need of the Chinese market. This market will allow Russia to export oil to other countries of South-East Asia. Yet, there is a rhetoric question coming up: is thee a chance to avoid the mean infringement upon the Russian environmental laws? Another good question: is there a chance to avoid the damage to unique natural sanctuaries of the Baikal region? The pipeline is supposed to be built on the land, which is considered to be holy for the people of the Buryatia republic. It would cost Yukos hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid that. This is big money, but Yukos is not a poor company at the end of the day.
Ecologists are very concerned about the pipeline project. Do Russian oligarchs listen to ecologists? The Angarsk-Daqing pipeline project attracted attention of the Siberian society because its developers ignored Russian environmental laws completely. Indeed: two variants of the construction are projected to take place on the territory of the Tunkinsky National Park. Another variant is planned to happen on the Baikal part of the World Natural Heritage. The Russian government gave it to understand that it was going to speed up the variant, which stipulates for the desecration of the Tunkinsky National Park. This variant is cheaper, it has been developed profoundly. In addition to that, the funding scheme is a lot better and more transparent.
Olga Belskaya, a co-chairwoman of the movement Baikal Ecological Wave, affirms that Yukos started making those infringements upon the Russian environment law during the first stage of its project. The technical goal was approved by the customers and executors, but that information was never made public. Independent analysts say that the project needs to be developed further. For instance, the pipeline must not be built on the Kitoysky fresh water deposit. This is the only perspective deposit to provide the Siberian town of Angarsk with fresh drinking water. This water field will be destroyed totally, even if a small breakdown happens. There were incidents like that before, for example during the construction of Omsk-Angarsk pipeline.
Furthermore, the administration of the company Yukos is intended to build the pipeline over a very short period of time – two years. This is too short for such grand construction. This means that there might be a lot of breakdowns and states of emergency happening.
Yevgeny Kislov from the Baikal center of public ecological expertise said that the Tunkinsky National Park contains 200 resources of mineral water. About ten thousand tourists go to the park to see them every year. Those springs are under the protection of the state. Yukos plans to run the pipeline across the spring of Arshan – the holy spring for the people of the Buryatia republic. Nina Vecher, a local ecologist, claims that no one wants Arshan to turn into a dump. National park employees are certain that the construction of the pipeline will scare tourists off, which will result in losses for the park. Religious leaders of Buryatia say that the construction will insult their spiritual protector – Khanday. “Showing such strong lack of respect to our god, we will cause trouble to happen for our people,” ecologists Darima Shagdurova says. Baikal ecologists say that there was only one representative of the local population invited to take part in the meeting that was devoted to the construction of the oil pipeline.
The developers of the oil and gas field on the island of Sakhalin have to apply up-to-date technologies in their work, on account of the public pressure. However, the situation in Sakhalin is under the control of foreign companies that usually find a common language with ecologists and public activities. A lot of oil businessmen in Alaska say that it was the public activity that made them make the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System one of the safest pipelines in the whole world.
Will the Russian society manage to stop the construction of the pipeline to China across the Tunkinsky National Park? More importantly – will Russian oil oligarchs listen to what common people have to say on the subject?
PRAVDA.Ru has repeatedly praised Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the president of the Russian oil giant Yukos. This person managed to become a role model for all other Russian oligarchs. Well, it was all truth. Yukos is the most civilized capitalist enterprise in Russia indeed. Yet, it happened so not just because of the fact that the company is really good. It happens so because other companies are worse. Mikhail Khodorkovsky spends lots of money and energy to maintain his “glorious” image. However, all petrodollars circulate in the West, whereas oil is in Russia. It deems that the role model for oligarchs does not really care about his image, when it comes to local people of Buryatia or Baikal ecologists.
Photo taken from Alexander Filatov’s “Arshan” photo gallery
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov