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Scientific research confirms the absence of environmental impacts from geological prospecting on the Arctic Shelf

JSC Gazpromneft-Sakhalin has completed the first stage of a comprehensive three-year programme of research into the ecological systems of the Arctic islands, located in the south—east of the Pechora Sea. Investigations into underwater flora and fauna, as well as land and sea birds and mammals inhabiting the Nenets State Nature Reserve (covering the Matveev, Golets, Dolgy, Bolshoi and Maly Zelenets islands) commissioned by the company were undertaken by the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In their final report researchers deem the status and condition of the biological environments within the reserve to be satisfactory and unharmed. Cooperation between Gazpromneft-Sakhalin and the Zoological Institute will be continued throughout 2015–16.

Monitoring of the status of underwater biological environments was undertaken during the course of research conducted in the summer of 2014, specifically research into the occurrence and distribution of plankton — which are the first to respond to any change (either natural or man-made) in the environment. Changes in plankton reproduction (since it has a very short lifecycle) are one of the first indicators of the health of an ecosystem. The expedition involved the placement of equipment on the seafloor to investigate the flora and fauna of the Pechora Sea, as well as sensors to investigate seasonal changes in hydrological characteristics.

Gazpromneft-Sakhalin General Director Aleksandr Korobkov commented: “Our company is making every possible effort to minimise man-made impacts on the environment. This ecological expedition, undertaken in 2014 at our own initiative, established the scientific basis for the systematic monitoring of ecosystems in the south—east Pechora Sea. This report on the current status of the biological environment will form the basis for long-term investigations into the flora and fauna of the Russian Arctic Shelf.”

Alexei Sukhotin, head of the Zoological Institute’s research group, added: “This first stage of comprehensive investigations into the coastal zone of the Nenets nature reserve has allowed us to evaluate the underlying characteristics of marine ecosystems. Analysis suggests that condition of the underwater flora and fauna investigated is consistent with what we would expect in an undisturbed natural environment. We were able, also, to identify those elements of the ecosystem most susceptible to both natural and man-made change. This is relevant to a range of plankton crustacean and larvae, ‘bottom-feeders’, sea birds and walruses. We will continue monitoring these species.”

Notes for editors

Gazpromneft-Sakhalin LLC was established to undertake exploration and production activities throughout oil, gas and gas condensate fields on the Russian Arctic Shelf. The company is 100-percent owned by JSC Gazprom Neft. Gazpromneft-Sakhalin holds licences for the development of the Dolginskoye and Severo-Zapadny fields in the Pechora Sea, the Heysovskiy field in the Barents Sea, and the Severo-Vrangelevsky field covering parts of the East Siberian and Chukchi Seas.