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Monday, 22 May 2017 19:15

It is impossible to take effective measures on protection of the Caspian Sea from pollution without settling issues in the five-sided format - Vladimir Bekker Featured

It is impossible to take effective measures on protection of the Caspian Sea from pollution without settling issues in the five-sided format - Vladimir Bekker

Caspian Energy (CE): Mr. Bekker, which safety standards are applied in the Caspian today when performing offshore oil-gas operations? How do you assess the safety in performing of offshore oil-gas operations in Kazakhstan and in the Caspian in particular?

Vladimir Bekker, Chairman of the Committee for Emergency Situations of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan: According to the Law ‘On civil protection’, Ministry of Internal Affairs is in charge of management and performing across-sector coordination, development and implementation of the state policy in the field of civil protection as far as prevention and elimination of natural and man-caused emergency situations, ensuring fire safety and civil defense are concerned.

Ministry for Investments and Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan is engaged in management, cross-sector coordination, development and implementation of the state policy in the field of industrial safety.

 

 

CE: Is there an interstate cooperation system in case if a force-majeure situation occurs on developed fields of the Caspian Sea? Is issue planned to be discussed at the summit of Caspian states in Astana this year?

Vladimir Bekker: in 2003 the Caspian States (Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan) signed a framework convention on protection of the marine environment of the Caspian Sea, or a so called Tehran convention regulating common obligations of the Caspian States on environmental protection. All Caspian countries ratified the agreement which entered into force on August 12 2006. Tehran convention has established common obligations and institutional arrangements. The convention obliges the states to undertake measures not only on protection of the Caspian Sea from all sources of pollution but also on preservation, restoration and protection of the marine environment.

However, it is impossible to take effective measures on protection of the Caspian Sea from pollution without settling a number of much broader political and legal issues by all Caspian states. Otherwise, it will evidently affect interest of other countries.

Thus, the law #474-U of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated March 18 2016 ratified a Protocol about regional readiness, response and cooperation in case of incidents causing oil pollution. The protocol signed on August 12 2011 in Aktau gained force in July 2016 and was related to the Framework convention on protection of the maritime environment of the Caspian Sea.

This protocol aims at ensuring regional measures of readiness for response and cooperation in case of pollution of the Caspian Sea with oil caused by activities on the seabed, as well as contamination with oil spilled from oil. According to the protocol, the parties must exchange information about big accidents causing oil pollution of the sea, as well as about new efficient oil pollution control measures.

 

CE: Are there plans to attract international experts to monitor situations in the Caspian Sea?

Vladimir Bekker:  Kazakhstan conducts state environmental monitoring in the shelf area and coastal zone using aerospace remote zoning technologies, which helps to control ecological situation in the most part of the water area of the national sector of the Caspian Sea.

This system of space environmental monitoring continuously tracks all areas and sections of the company's responsibility, including detection and operative monitoring of oil spots in the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian Sea, their registration using radar sensing technology, recognition of oil spots through the identification algorithm, establishing precise coordinates and spill area, modeling distribution of oil spills in the sea.

A special program to create a regional environmental monitoring system in the Kazakhstan sector of the Caspian Sea has been developed. There is an environmental research laboratory operating in Mangistau region to monitor the ongoing processes. The laboratory staff conducts research and monitoring of all components of the environment. Along with this, the reduction of the environmental load goes through the introduction of modern environmentally friendly materials and technologies when producing oil, its processing and using petroleum products.

At the same time, it is necessary to develop scientific approaches involving all countries in order to solve the environmental problems of the Caspian. According to some experts, today it is necessary to develop a unified system of space monitoring.

The coastal countries are already carrying out a partial space analysis of their own sector, but it is advisable to combine these studies into a single monitoring. This can be done within the framework of the Tehran Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment. Besides, there is a need for a general program of an integrated monitoring system over the marine environment of the Caspian Sea.

 

 

CE: What kind of technologies does the Ministry have to prevent and eliminate consequences of accidents like the disaster at BP-operated Makondo field in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 or at Gunashli in 2015? Have the exercises of the Ministries of Emergency Situations of the Caspian countries been hold? How effective can an emergency response be in the case of force majeure?

Vladimir Bekker: The Committee of Emergency Situations has a rescue aircraft to rescue people and extinguish fires in the water area of the Caspian Sea.

The Mi-8MTV helicopter of Kazaviaspas JSC, constantly deployed in Atyrau, is equipped with a water discharge device (with the 4.5-tonne capacity, capable of withdrawing water from open sources), a winding engine and necessary rescue equipment.

If necessary, it is possible to relocate additional aircraft from other regions to carry out rescue operations in the water area of the Caspian Sea. The Committee of Emergency Situations does not have its own marine means for rescue operations at sea.

In 2016, at the invitation of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations the rescuers of the Committee of Emergency Situations took part in the international comprehensive emergency training exercises of rescue services for responding to a contingent emergency situation in the water area of the Caspian Sea and the coastal zone “Caspian-2016” in Astrakhan.

From the Kazakh side, the exercises involved the Mi-8MTV helicopter of Kazaviaspas JSC with rescue equipment.

During the exercises the sides worked over the issues of information action of the operations duty services of the Caspian states (in a videoconferencing mode) and joint actions for eliminating consequences of a conditional emergency situation on the offshore fixed platform.

 

CE: Has a plan for preventing oil spills been developed? What kind of state-of-the-art instruments does Kazakhstan have to eliminate consequences of such an accident?

Vladimir Bekker: The measures for preventing and responding to oil spills in the sea and inland water bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan are envisaged by the National Plan approved by Order #134 of the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Kazakhstan dated February 23, 2015.

The National Plan also delineates responsibility for state and local executive bodies to respond to oil spills.

It should be noted that organizations and companies involved in oil operations have necessary equipment and tools for oil spill response operations: ships, containers, oil-spill booms (including absorbent booms), absorbent pads, skimmers (oil skimmers), sorbents, biological products, etc.

 

CE: Which additional measures are being taken, given the seismicity of the Caspian region?

Vladimir Bekker: In Kazakhstan, the southern and south-eastern parts of the country are earthquake-prone.

At the same time, the intensive development of crude hydrocarbons in recent decades has caused a real threat of probable strong man-caused earthquakes at the oilfields located in Atyrau, Western Kazakhstan and Mangystau regions.

The scientists believe the intensive development of oil fields can be a cause of the so-called induced seismicity.

At the same time, according to the Construction Norms and Regulations of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Construction in Seismic Regions” (SNiP 2.03-30-2006), the Atyrau and West Kazakhstan regions are not seismically dangerous regions.

 

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