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August 12 - the Day of the Caspian Sea, the holiday with tears in the eyes

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By Laura Suleimenova

Image 0On August 12, Atyrau celebrated the Day of the Caspian Sea.

The festive event was organized by NCOC - the operator of the North Caspian project and the government administration of Atyrau Oblast. The oil company coincided with this event the presentation of the book "Monitoring of Surrounding Environment of the Northeast Caspian Sea During Development of Oil Fields". It is the collection of scientific articles based on results of ecological researches within the framework of implementation of the North Caspian project during the period from 1993 to 2006. The authors, mainly from Almaty, were invited to the event (see on the photo).

Why was the base built?

Deputy governor of Atyrau region Gumar Duisembaev reminded to the audience that "The Caspian Sea is a unique reservoir, whose bioresources should be preserved for future generations". Then he gave prizes to mass media employees who cover the issues of the Caspian Sea, including your obedient servant, as well as the employees of various environmental agencies.

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However there were no festive tones in Muftakh Diarov's speech. The academician reminded that the North Caspian oil spill response base was built in ecologically sensitive delta of the Ural River - despite the public protests. By the way, oil industry workers accepted later that the base was useless because of its remoteness from the field.

Another serious mistake, according to Diarov, is the selection for transportation of freights of the TCO's FGP Project that envisages the construction of the sea channel in specially protected reserved part of the Caspian Sea:

- I was exchanging correspondence for half a year, including with the RoK Security Council, that by building this channel we violate the agreements with other Caspian states. However all authorized bodies gave a green light to construction. This is a big sin!

Is there no censorship any more?

Diarov continued to stay on his grounds even after the positive speeches of the authors of the book. He reminded about their complaints in the past that the customer didn't allow to include unpleasant facts into the results of their researches.

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As scientists commented, it was indeed that during the initial years of development, the customers among whom was Agip KCO, considered that they shouldn't make public some of the data.

- But then everything was normalized. We kept and included into the collection all indicators on pollution, exceedances, on sturgeon, seals and so on, - assured the director of the science and ecological design department of “Terra" LLP, professor of biology Natalya Ogar.

Mr Diarov, I think, as well as all other attendees were wondering why the consortium preferred to cover in the book only the period from 1993 to 2006, though offshore operations in the Caspian Sea are performed until this day. The answer of NCOC's director of health, labour and environment protection department Igor Lukashov (on a photo): because during this period the main scope of work in the off-shore area (90%) has been performed connected with construction of D and A sea islands.

As for the subsequent drilling of sea wells, Lukashov declared that those activities had no impact on environment - in view of zero discharge police accepted on the project. However he didn't take into consideration the fact that initial pipes were laid during that period that later happened to fail. And now this work is re-done that will obviously negatively impact the ecology of the Caspian Sea.

The head of Zhaik-Caspian Orkhuss center Shynar Iztleuova asked if the consortium is planning to release similar collection of articles for the later years. Lukashov answered that is possible to consider the publication for the period from 2006 to 2013, and then from 2015 and further. But he refrained from the final answer.

Photos taken by the author

August 14 2015, 15:11

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