Gazpromneft Sakhalin, operator of the Dolginskoye oilfield development (located on the continental shelf of the Pechora Sea) has joined forces with the Nenetsk State Nature Reserve and the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences to undertake an ecological research expedition investigating the maritime ecosystems of the Arctic.
The expedition team, led by Alexei Sukhotin, head of the Zoological Institute’s White Sea Research Station and including zoologists, hydro-biologists and other specialists from the Zoological Institute and the Academy of Sciences’ Northern Urals Ecological Institute, will be based for three weeks on the Professor Vladimir Kuznetsov research vessel, to be moored near to the Matveev, Golets, Dolgiy and Greater and Lesser Zelenetz islands, located in a specially protected area within the Nenets State Nature Reserve.
The long-term objective of the project is the examination of the marine environment of the shores of the islands of the Pechora Sea (within the Nenets State Nature Reserve); the mapping and long-term monitoring of developing deep-sea ecosystems; and the evaluation of potential natural and man-made impacts on these. Specific research on aquatic and sub-sea environments is planned for 2014, during which (in addition to hydrological measurements), plankton, parasitic and other samples will be taken. The results of this research (part of a wider research programme expected to run over three years) will allow Gazpromneft Sakhalin to ensure the better tracking of the ecological status of the Pechora Sea, where the company is involved in developing the Dolginskoye oilfield.
Geological surveying of the field (which in 2014 saw the drilling of a fourth exploration well) will be undertaken in strict adherence to environmental protection standards, and consistent with the principle of zero emissions. This means that the project precludes the possibility of industrial and household wastes, oils, or other by-products of industrial activity being discharged into the sea. Cutting-edge technologies are being utilised in well drilling, including systems utilising water-based drilling fluids, recognised as being environmentally safe and proven to be effective in extraction under similar geological conditions.
In addition to this Gazpromneft Sakhalin is also, as part of its research programme, working to replenish the biological resources of the Arctic: early July 2014, in particular, saw the release of 15,000 baby salmon trout into the Onega river, intended to support the equilibrium of the ecosystem where the river flows into the White Sea. Gazpromneft Sakhalin’s total investment in this fish-breeding programme is based on recommendations from the Knipovich Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography (PINRO) and endorsed by the Federal Agency for Fisheries.
The Dolginskoye oilfield is located in the central part of the Pechora Sea, 120 kilometres south of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago and 110 kilometres north of the mainland coast. The field, discovered in 1999, lies under seawater extending to some