By Zulfiya Bainekeeva
Public hearings on environmental impact assesment of the project “Cargo transportation rout in northeast part of the Caspian Sea. The North Caspian sea channel with berthing facilities” was held in Atyrau.
THE URAL RIVER WAS SPARED
Public hearings were organized by the local government of Atyrau Oblast jointly with the project client - TenizService LLP, with participation of the Zhaik-Caspisky Orkhuss Center.
TenizService LLP is the subsidiary of KazMunayGas Oil Company. This is an investment project and is aimed: to dig 50 km long and 5 meters deep navigation canal on the seabed in the southeast part of the North Caspian Sea; to construct a mooring complex for loading/unloading of cargo on the seashore near Prorva; to build a 10-20 km dam up to the public road in waterlogged coastal zone.
The project is supposed to simplify the delivery of cargo to the coast and back from the offshore fields.
Initially, they considered even the option of construction of the channel along the Ural River, but a doubtful project caused many critical remarks. The client and project designers admitted that option of construction of the sea channel near Prorva field will have less impact from the ecological point of view.
A year ago the client at the preliminary hearings announced that the project is designed for the companies that develop onshore and offshore fields, such as Kashagan, KMOK, Satpayev, Zhambyl, Tengiz, Embamunaygaz, Yuzhnaya etc. In other words the potential partners will be NCOC, TCO, KMG group of companies.
TenizService contractors - Vitteveen+bos Caspian LLP (a Kazakhstan company founded by the Dutch), Center of Remote Sensing LLP and GIS “Terra” – presented their projects to the public.
A year ago the issue of potential customers was brought up. But today, the client says that they have a preliminary agreement with TCO and providing the implementation of the project is successful, TCO will be one of the customers.
- In Atyrau Oblast there are no capacities yet for delivering cargo for implementation of TCO Future Growth Project. When we successfully implement the project, it will be the only route which TCO will be able to use, - says Gaziz Kousain, the general director of TenizService.
TenizService will be the owner of the channel. The approximate cost of the project is 600-700mln dollars. At the peak of construction it is planned to employ about 800 workers. After the completion of construction the client plans to open a branch in Atyrau with 128 employees.
- What would you do with these facilities when FGP will be finished? - asked the North Caspian Press Club chairman Artur Shakhnazaryan.
- After completion of FGP the project has good prospects. In Atyrau Oblast there are no coastal infrastructure facilities for supporting sea oil operations, bearing in mind, that all large-scale oil and gas fields and potential blocks are located in Atyrau Oblast. TCO will finish the utilization of its field in 2020, and the intensive production of oil will start in the North Caspian Sea andour facility will be used to the support of oil opearinots. Also it could be used for the delivery of cargo to onshore fields and we consider that TCO and other companies could also successfully use it. The facility has good perspectives and we can call it “the sea gates of Atyrau Oblast” – said Gaziz Kousain.
BENTHOS WILL ‘GET BY’ (UPDATE)
The data provided at the hearings about “limited impact” on benthos (organisms living in seabed) were challenged by E. Kadimov, the Deputy Head of Department of Agriculture. Contracting company GIS Terra estimated the damage to fish resources as “limited” for an estimated zone of impact of up to 10 sq.km.
- Will the whole benthos living on the area of 10 sq. km die? – asked Kadimov.
- The 100% death of benthos will happen only at the direct places where the soil will be dumped, - noted Tatyana Shmelyova, the head of ecology department of GIS Terra company.
- During the turbidity benthos perishes for 100%, especially in shallow waters. If 100% perished benthos multiplied by the impacted area, then the figures should be different and much worse, - said Kadimov. - We calculated the damage caused by a similar project - laying of pipeline at Kashagan – Karabatan route and there was an issue of 100% death of benthos. With the area of impact amounting to 250 meters, the damage amounted to 5mln dollars. I also think that you forgot to multiple the damage by 3, since benthic fauna restoration period is 3 years.
Nevertheless, the contractors expressed confidence that no “catastrophic consequences for biota (set of plants and animals) is expected because of scheduled activity”.
The client promised to consider all proposals and questions raised by the participants of public hearings during EIA follow-on revision.