Oil and Gas

The Last Camping Ground – Khanty Herders Struggles With Lukoil

March 30, 2014 • Philip Burgess

Extensive article by Georgy Borodyansky, an Omsk-based correspondent for Novaya Gazeta which looks at the difficulties facing reindeer herders in the Khanty–Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (KhMAO) in western Siberia which is a major oil producing region.

Executives at petrochemical giant Lukoil are accustomed to conquering time and space from their computers in their glass and concrete skyscrapers. But they have encountered an unexpected problem: a family of reindeer herders is resisting the corporation’s takeover of its ancestral camping ground in the Khanty–Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug (KhMAO) in western Siberia. From the window of their skyscraper, it’s just about the end of the earth.

The Aipin family, like most of northern Russia’s indigenous peoples, live on top of the so-far inexhaustible mineral resources that literally underlie the prosperity of not only the oil companies but of Russia itself, with its Olympic Games, summits, forums and Forbes List ratings. The area produces over half of Russia’s oil, but the Khanty themselves have no need of this black gold gushing from below the land where their ancestors have lived for more than a thousand years. What they need is the forests and the white snow that, as the great Kola Beldy, himself from the Nanai indigenous people, used to sing, ‘melts on the horizon into the white sky’; lichen for their herds in the winter and berries and mushrooms in the summer.

Read the full article here on Open Democracy Russia



Reindeer Husbandry & Barents 2030 Report Now Available in Russian

September 9, 2013 • Philip Burgess

Barents 2030A translation of the report ‘Reindeer Husbandry and Barents 2030’ prepared by the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, in collaboration with NORUT, UNEP-GRID Arendal and others.. This report was commissioned by StatoilHydro ASA and undertaken by ICR. StatoilHydro commissioned four parallel scenario reports for the Barents Region on respectively climate change, socio-economic consequences, environmental issues and reindeer husbandry.The joint project was initiated as part of StatoilHydro’s preparations or a strategic action plan for future oil and gas developments in the High North.

You can read the report in English here and read/download the Russian translation below.

Read more…


Gazprom and Statoil Sign Sci-Tech Agreement

June 22, 2010 • Philip Burgess

The two Shtokman partners to expand cooperation through a sci-tech cooperation program.

Today within the framework of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2010 Alexander Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee and Peter Mellbye, Executive Vice President of Statoil signed an Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation.

Pursuant to the Agreement, the parties will in such areas as geological exploration and development of hydrocarbon fields; hydrocarbons production and treatment before transportation; technologies and equipment for the hydrocarbons transportation; environmental protection of the Northern seas and territories; Health, Safety and Environment issues under northern conditions; energy saving; renewable energy sources; gas processing; project management and corporate governance.

According to the document Gazprom and Statoil will compile a Sci-Tech Cooperation Program to be adjusted every 1 to 3 years for the purpose of joint efforts coordination.


Gazprom and Statoil are partners in Phase 1 of the Shtokman gas and condensate field development.

In June 2009, Gazprom and Statoil signed the Memorandum of Understanding. The document provides for joint activities of the companies in the area of exploration, development and production of hydrocarbon resources in northern regions.


Russian Arctic tribe at risk from Yamal gas projects (REUTERS)

October 7, 2009 • Philip Burgess

By Amie Ferris-Rotman,  67 N LATITUDE, 71 E LONGITUDE, Russia, Oct 6 (Reuters) – The Nenets tribespeople of Russia’s frozen Yamal peninsula have survived the age of the Tsars, the Bolshevik revolution and the chaotic 1990s, but now confront their biggest challenge — under their fur-bundled feet is enough gas to heat the world for five years.

“For them it is fortune, for us terror,” said 20-year-old herder Andrei Yezgini, dressed from head to toe in reindeer skin, referring to ambitious plans by state gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) to drill the region Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has described as “the world’s storehouse” of gas and oil.

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GAZPROM Postpones Bovanenkovo Development on Yamal

June 16, 2009 • Philip Burgess
(Source: BarentsObserver) Russian energy major Gazprom will postpone the launch of the Bovanenkovo field in Yamal until 2012, a high-ranking company representative confirmed today.

Aleksandr Ananenkov, Deputy Chairman of the company’s Management Committee today said that the launch of the field will be postponed from 2011 as originally planned to 2012. The reason is the company’s need to save costs, RIA Novosti reports.

Read more…


Declaration of coexistence between reindeer nomads and the oil and gas industry in the Russian North

February 11, 2009 • Philip Burgess

Representatives of research, reindeer herding, local authorities and industry contributed to a ’declaration of coexistence’ between reindeer nomads and the oil and gas industry in the Russian North….

The declaration is among the results of a four year research project ENSINOR at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, with Nenets reindeer herders and ’their’ industry on both sides of the Ural mountains. An international workshop in December 2007 had brought together the above mentioned stakeholder groups, which contributed to the declaration.

The declaration is available in English and Russian .

This declaration is one of several products of the research project ENSINOR (Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization in Northern Russia), which lasted 48 months and ran from January 2004 through December 2007. The overall aim of ENSINOR was the co-production of knowledge that stems from different traditions among both scientists and reindeer herders and their respective ways of knowing about contemporary social-ecological systems.



Reindeer Herding is in my Blood – Vitaly Kazamkin, Khanty Mansisk

January 2, 2009 • Philip Burgess

Russia Today have a short video that features a reindeer herding family in the village of Varyogan, Khanty Mansisk, Russia. Khanty and Mansi peoples are ancient reindeer herding peoples, but their traditional livelohoods have come under a great deal of pressure from development, most particularly the oil and gas industry, which has been active for several decades in this region. Khanty-Mansisk is an area of northwestern Siberia nearly the size of France. It is home to about 18,000 native Siberians from three different cultures-Khanty, Mansi and Forest Nenets.

While Kamzakin speaks of snowmobiles received from oil companies in return for access to pastures, he also alludes to the damage that is being done to the ecology of the region as a result of their activities. Watch the clip here.


“The World Will Depend On Yamal”

October 15, 2008 • Philip Burgess

Just in case you were in any doubt that Gazprom, its affiliates and other Russian oil and gas folks are prioritising the Yamal Peninsula, home to the largest area of nomadic reindeer husbandry in the world, the Head of the Union of Russian Oil and Gas Industrialists, Gennady Shmal, said recently that the Yamal Peninsula will be a vital key for the development of the world’s gas industry over the next 50 years.

Rosbalt Nord, Barents Observer

“I do not see any alternatives to the Yamal-Nenets Autononous Okrug, which gives 87 percent of Russia’s gas and 20 percent of the world’s gas”

According to regional predictions, by 2012, a total of 638,6 billion cubic meters of gas will be produced in the region, much of which will be from the mighty Bovanenkovo field. Gazprom is about to install the first three rigs at its huge Bovanenkovo field in the Yamal Peninsula, with a total of nine rigs ready when production starts in late 2011. However, it is not all full steam ahead – the Yuzhno-Tambeyskoe gas field  in the Yamal Peninsula will not now be started until 2024, Gazprom says, likely a disappointment to Shell and ENI, which both seek stakes in the project.


Yamal Oil and Gas Comforts Reindeer

July 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess
Is Oil and Gas Development Good for Reindeer Husbandry?

The story from Tyumenskaya News posted in the Reindeer Blog yesterday reflects an earlier “oil and gas and reindeer and good news” story that appeared in Rosbalt Nord a few weeks ago entitled “Ямальские газовики подарят оленям комфорт / Yamal gas industry gives comfort to reindeer”. The article quoted Sergei Khudi (who attended the EALAT workshop in Yar Sale and the ENSINOR workshop in Rovaniemi). Khudi works for Yamaltranstroy as an advisor on environment and indigenous issues.

According to Khudi pipeline passages for reindeer are being built on the traditional nomadic routes of reindeer herds and these are arranged with the brigadiers of the reindeer herding households. To date, 15 such passages that are 100 metres in width have been built. Khudi also said that reindeer are even allowed migrate on roads and fishing areas in the area of Bovanenkovo.


“Finno Ugric Peoples Yet to Taste Freedom”

July 3, 2008 • Philip Burgess

So said Toomas Ilves, the President of Estonia, as he marched his delegation out of last weeks Finno Ugric Congress in Khanty Mansisk. Ilves even called for the European Union to become engaged in protecting Finno Ugric languages. These remarks were designed to irritate Russia, no doubt, as more than 2 million Finno Ugrian people live in Russia (and many are reindeer herders) Nenets, Sami, Khanty, Mansy, and Komi. However, and this point was made in the Moscow Times in yesterdays editorial, many of Russia’s indigenous peoples are not benefiting from the recent rise in Russia’s wealth and this is all the more evident in areas that are rich in oil and gas such as Khanty Mansisk, Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug and the Nenets Automous Okrug).

Read more…


Russia’s Longest Bridge – on the Yamal Peninsula

May 6, 2008 • Philip Burgess

It is well known that the Yamal Peninsula is not only the source of much of Europe’s current and future energy resources (and as a result is of enormous strategic importance to Russia), but it is also the home of the world’s largest area of reindeer husbandry.   A major piece of puzzle is infrastructure development, which in the case of the Bovanenkovo field, is being reached by railway, a railway which crosses the migration routes of several reindeer herding brigades. And rivers: The longest railway bridge in Russia is due to be finished by 2009, across the Yuribey River as part of this giant project. You can watch a short video about the project here.


The Arctic Oil Rush (Vanity Fair)

April 23, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Pic: Subhankar Banerjee, Vanity Fair) An interesting article has appeared in the May 2008 edition of Vanity Fair by Alex Shoumatoff. He writes about Chilangarov’s hugely popular (in Russia, not the rest of the world) stunt of planting a flag on the seabed of the North Pole,

“I don’t give a damn what all these foreign politicians … are saying about this. If someone doesn’t like this, let them go down themselves and try to put something there. Russia must win. Russia has what it takes to win. The Arctic has always been Russian.” (A. Chilangarov)

But of most interest to the Reindeer Blog is what he writes about reindeer husbandry and the challenges they face in Sakha Yakutia in the face of climate change – which in mainstream Russian scientific circles is not happening, a notion contradicted by Bob Corell (Arctic Climate Impact Assessment author, Heinz Center scientist and EALAT team member also quoted in the article). The mainstream view in Russia is that it is currently getting colder. The author visited several villages in Sakha Yakutia interviewing reindeer herders, horse breeders and wild reindeer hunters.

Read the full article here. / Download pdf here


Another Oil Terminal for Nenets Autonomous Okrug?

April 22, 2008 • Philip Burgess

According to a report in the Barents Observer and Rosbalt Nord, the Nenets Autonomous Okrug proposes to build a new port terminal in Indiga for exports of oil shipments. This is a region of reindeer husbandry for Nenets and Komi herders and it should be remembered that the establishment of an oil terminal in Varandei led to the relocation of an old Nenets village and created difficulties for reindeer herders in the region.

Read more…


Oil Enriching Nenets, Bankrupting Traditions

April 17, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Picture – Miriam Elder, From the Moscow Times, 11042008) NARYAN-MAR, Nenets Autonomous District — When an airplane carrying LUKoil workers crashed in the far north of this Arctic region three years ago, killing 29 of 52 people on board, many blamed the weather.

When, one year later, in March 2006, a helicopter carrying victims’ relatives to a commemoration ceremony at the crash site also fell, killing another person, the indigenous people thought something else was at play. The land, they said, was cursed.

One of Russia’s newest oil-producing regions, the Nenets autonomous district is home to lucrative projects for LUKoil and Rosneft. It is also home to a population of 7,000 indigenous Nenets, whose livelihood and seminomadic way of life is being increasingly threatened by the region’s growing oil industry.

Read more…


Evenki, Reindeer and the East Siberian Pacific Pipeline

April 15, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(From Arctic Sounder, by TAMAR BEN-YOSEF, April 11, 2008 at 11:19AM AKST The struggle by Alaska’s Inupiat to protect their culture in face of resource development has drawn the attention of indigenous leaders in Russia facing near-identical challenges.

A delegation of four Russian indigenous leaders from the Sakha Republic showed up in Barrow and Nuiqsut last week to meet tribal leaders, organizations and local residents to learn about Inupiat methods of protecting their culture.

Read more…


Bovanenkovskoe on Yamal ‘on track’

March 11, 2008 • Philip Burgess

(Pic: BarentsObserver) On a recent trip to Yamal, the deputy CEO of Gazprom said that Bovanenkovskoe  is on track to start production in 2011. (Об итогах совещания ОАО «Газпром» и Администрации ЯНАО по вопросам взаимодействия при обустройстве Бованенковского месторождения и строительстве системы магистральных газопроводов «Бованенково – Ухта»)

Bovanenkovskoe will be connected by pipeline and more than 2400 km of new gas pipelines need to be built, including about 1000 km from the field to Ukhta in the Komi Republic. The Yamal field will also be connected by railway line. The construction of the line “Obskaya- Bovanenkovo” was started last early last year. A total of 197 km of the line and 40 bridges have already been built. The pipeline and railway pass through the world’s largest area of reindeer husbandry.

(From Gazprom) In January 2002, the Gazprom Management Committee identified the Yamal Peninsula as a region of the Company’s strategic interest. The commercial development of Yamal fields will increase local gas production to 250 bcmpa. Accessing the Yamal is of utter importance for the purpose of ensuring gas production growth. 11 gas fields and 15 oil and gas condensate fields have been discovered in the Yamal. The total recoverable gas, condensate, and oil reserves amount to 10.4 tcm, 228.3 mln t, and 291.8 mln t, respectively. The aggregate reserves of the largest Yamal fields, namely the Bovanenkovskoye, Kharasaveyskoye and Novoportovskoye operated by Gazprom dobycha Nadym (a wholly owned subsidiary of Gazprom) under the respective licenses, account for 5.9 tcm of gas, 100.2 mln t of condensate, and 227 mln t of oil.


ENSINOR Wrap Up Workshop – A Summary

February 20, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The ENSINOR workshop involving key stakeholders from indigenous peoples (including several reindeer herders), administration and oil and gas officials was held in Rovaniemi in December, organised by the Arctic Centre, Finland. Florian Stammler and Philip Burgess have coauthored this summary.. On 10-11 December 2007 the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland held a 2-day workshop involving key stakeholders from northern Russia, Finland and Norway. Among the participants were indigenous representatives, oil and gas industry personnel, NGO representatives, government personnel, and a mix of natural and social scientists. Several members of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry were in attendance, including Anders Oskal, Svein Mathiesen, Philip Burgess and Ole Isak Eira. The workshop was the final activity of the 48-month project “Environmental and Social Impacts of Industrialization in Northern Russia (ENSINOR)”, which was funded by the Academy of Finland January 2004- December 2007. The project has made comparative case studies of oil and gas activities in two key federal districts – the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) and Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO).

Read more…


ICR Interviewed by NRK Sami Radio on Nenets, Reindeer and Oil and Gas

January 31, 2008 • Philip Burgess

ICR Director Anders Oskal was interviewed by NRK Sami Radio on January 29th about the impacts of oil and gas development on Nenets reindeer husbandry. Oskal pointed out that there were a great many actors on the scene, some of whom are not willing to negotiate with reindeer herders.

Oskal also said that on his recent visits to the region (Yamal Nenets Autonomous Okrug) it was quite visible how oil and gas installations impacted the landscape and in particular, how pipelines cut reindeer pastures in two.

You can read a summary and listen to the interview here.

In another story on ‘Russia Today’ there is a short video clip on how oil and gas development is bringing economic opportunities to reindeer herders in the Nenets region. You can watch the video clip here. 


‘Final countdown for reindeer on Russian Tundra’ (Helsingin Sanomat)

January 30, 2008 • Philip Burgess

The english edition of the national Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat carried an article by Kirsikka Moring on the impact of the oil and gas industry on reindeer husbandry. The journalist attended the ENSINOR seminar in Rovaniemi, December 2007. You can read a more nuanced summary of that seminar on the Reindeer Portal.

Read more…