By Saule Tasboulatova
On November 5, the official ceremony of lend-lease of the North Caspian Oil Spill Response Base to the North Caspian consortium took place. The lease is signed between KMG-TransCaspian LLP (100 % Kazmunaygas subsidiary and NCOSRB owner) and NCPOC Consortium agent Company (the tenant).
ON THE SECOND TIER
So, an end is put to the 10 year disputes that started from the selection of the location for NCOSRB (the base is built in the conservation area by the Ural River estuary) to its transfer for operations (initially it was supposed that RoK Emergency Situations Ministry will take control over the base).
The ceremony took place on NCOSRB territory where Murat Mukashev, NCOC's corporate services director, Arjan van Dijk, NCPOC managing director, Nurtas Shmanov, KMG vice-chairman of board and Sherkhan Sugurbekov, KMG-TransCaspian LLP director general, participated.
The local government was represented only by the acting head of the emergency situations department of Atyrau Oblast Kabylbek Kystaubaev. The other invited local government reps: the first deputy governor Gumar Dyusembaev and the deputy governor Salimzhan Nakpaev didn’t come (they were at the meeting). Atyrau Oblast ecology department representatives were also absent.
In his speech the managing director of NCPOC Arjan van Dijk called NCOSRB “the state-of-the-art facility”:
- The North Caspian base serves as an addition to the Consortium’s main arsenal of equipment designed to respond to oil spills which is located in Bautino Base. Oil spill response equipment for shallow waters is now at Atyrau river port. It will be relocated to NCOSRB on a permanent basis.
To recall, the North Caspian base should be used in case of oil spill response in the north shallow waters of the Caspian Sea. There are 3 tiers of oil spill response: the 1st tier oil spill response plan envisages the implementation of the Consotrium’s internal plan (the base is located on D island), the 2nd tier - involvement of NCOSRB (elimination of spills in shallow waters). For the 3d tier accident (absolutely undesirable scenario) the Consortium will attract the contractor - an international company (recognized world leader in oil spills response) which is based in Southampton, UK.
According to Arjan van Dijk, the NCOSRB fleet consists of contractors’19 vessels intended for oil spill response in shallow waters. The NCOSRB equipment will start operation in the first quarter of 2014, after the period of ice cover.
THEY DON'T LIKE FIGURES
After the official part, the time has come to answer the questions. Traditionally majority of the answers were indistinct.
- I can't tell you the exact figure, - said Arjan van Dijk when he was asked about an estimated annual budget of NCOSRB. – The only thing I can tell is that budget will consist of several elements. The first one is the rent of the base, the second: purchases and maintenenace, and the third one is the servicing of resources. It is a multimillion budget, I can't tell the exact figure.
DANCES ON THE ICE
Sh. Sugurbekov, TransCaspian LLP general director, with regards to disposal of oil waste said the following:
- NCOSRB project envisages that all vessels and equipment, involved in oil spill response operations, will be further transported to Bautino base, where they will be cleaned and only after cleaning they will be returned back to NCOSRB. Regarding NCOSRB operations, we, as the owner of this base, jointly with NCPOC assure you that its activity will be performed practically without impact on environment.
Murat Mukashev, NCOC's corporate services director, with regards to response plan in case of oil spills during winter time, i.e. during ice cover period, said the following:
- As a rule, in winter time oil spills are more localized. Nevertheless, it is necessary to liquidate oil spills. This base, most likely, will be used, but again it all depends on the place where it would happen. As I already said, this base will be the part of the chain of various facilities aimed at prevention of oil spills.
Later I asked Mark Krauser, NCPOC oil spill response manager, the same question.
- The advantage of ice cover is in formation of the ice from the coast towards the sea and the occurrence of the natural protecting line. In case of oil spills during ice period, we will approach our colleagues from Agip KCO. They will arrive on vessels that are designed for navigation in deep-water areas and they with their ice breakers will collect oil from the ice. Also, when the ice is thick enough to carry the weight of the equipment, then it would be possible to collect spilled oil from such ice, Mark Krauser said.
TO ENCIRLE AND DESTROY
After the official part, NCPOC employees demonstrated the drill on uncoiling of containment booms where several NCPOC vessels were involved.
The drill took place in the mooring basin (that serves as an exit to the sea). Seven shallow water vessels started to uncoil 600-meter containment boom which was reeled up on a huge drum. The purpose of the drill was to localize oil spill.
Coming back to the issue of elimination of oil spill waste during the ice period, M. Krauser said:
- In our oil spill response plan there is a “burning on spot” method that was fully approved and supported by state agencies of Kazakhstan. We can burn oil right on the ice without transporting it to Bautino base for waste management. The science proved that this type of waste management is ecologically less dangerous compared to others. We prefer to clean containment booms, then manage the waste, but the method of burning on the spot has been included both into the national and our internal NCPOC response plans.