According to the Ministry of Energy, in 2019 more than 17.1 thousand accidents occurred at the enterprises of the fuel and energy complex of Russia, as a result of which oil spilled. It turns out that, on average, they happened every half hour. At the same time, WWF counted only about 40 reports of oil spills over the past year (less than 1%).
According to the calculations of Important stories (based on data from the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Natural Resources), about 55 thousand hectares are polluted with oil products in Russia. This territory can be compared with half of Moscow within the Moscow Ring Road.
Moreover, even the official statistics do not always coincide. For example, in 2015, Minister of Natural Resources Sergei Donskoy said that 25 thousand accidents occur annually at oil production and transportation facilities, as a result of which about 1.5 million tons of oil enter the environment. At the same time, Rosprirodnadzor announced the data 150 times lower - about 10 thousand tons.
According to Ivan Blokov, Program Director of the Russian branch of Greenpeace, several million tons of oil are spilled in Russia every year. Such volumes can only be compared with Nigeria, where accidents are often associated with vandalism. At the same time, 90% of spills in Russia are due to pipe corrosion. Many companies still operate Soviet oil field pipelines, which are 70% worn out.
“We have an unspoken agreement that oil companies do not invest in accident prevention, infrastructure, and liquidation of consequences - and thus reduce the cost of oil. And it is becoming more competitive on the international market", - says Ivan Ivanov, chairman of the Pechora Rescue Committee, adding that this tactic is beneficial to the state.
Greenpeace experts believe that the problem can be solved in five years. But this requires oil companies to spend 15–20% of their net profit on pipe replacement.
According to the forecast of Bank of America analyst Karen Kostanyan, the profitability of Russian companies will exceed those of other countries by the end of 2020: 8.6% versus 6.4% in Europe, 4% in Saudi Arabia, 2.7% in the United States. At the same time, in Russia in 2018, for every million tons of oil produced, there were 20 accidents, the American company ExxonMobil had three, and the British-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell had two.
According to Greenpeace, in 2018, Rosneft (4253) and Lukoil (1508) had the most accidents in Russia. Their total production exceeds 50% of Russia's as a whole. But if we take the number of spills per million tons of oil as an indicator, then Russneft will become the leader (40 accidents per one million tons of oil). At the same time, this company extracts minerals least of all. Then, in terms of the number of accidents to the amount of oil produced, Bashneft (30) and Tatneft (22) follow, according to Important Stories.
The world's largest onshore oil spill occurred in 1994 near Usinsk in the Komi Republic. At that time, about 200 thousand tons of oil spilled out of the worn out underground oil pipeline. The program director of the Russian branch of Greenpeace said that after 21 years (Blokov was at the scene of the accident in 2015), nothing much changed there: oil continued to rise to the surface, nature did not recover. At the same time, about $ 100 million was allocated to eliminate the consequences.
The chairman of the Pechora Rescue Committee also noted that cattle began to die because of the disaster in Komi - oil was found in the animals' bodies. Also, scientists have encountered fish with developmental disabilities. According to Boris Revich , head of the laboratory for predicting the quality of the environment and public health at the Institute for Economic Forecasting of the Russian Academy of Sciences, various diseases, including gastritis, were also identified in children. “After the oil spill, phenol is formed, and people seem to be forced to drink water with a high phenol content. Another problem is the consumption of local foodstuffs, also contaminated with oil”, he added.
Yekaterina Dyachkova, a member of the Pechora Rescue Committee, also noted that many of the liquidators of the accident in Komi are no longer alive, although they were not elderly people. Many, she said, died early, mostly from oncology.
It should be noted that, according to Roshydromet data, exceeding the maximum permissible concentration (MPC) of oil products is recorded not only in the regions of production, but also in such rivers as the Volga, Don, Moscow, etc. In particular, last summer in the Volgograd reservoir area exceeded 30 times.
Currently, according to the legislation, the amount of compensation for an accident is reduced by as much as the company spent on its elimination. In practice, however, such a system does not work well. For example, during the accident in Norilsk, about 20 thousand tons of oil products were spilled. Rosprirodnadzor estimated the damage at 148 billion rubles, and the culprit company (NTEK, a subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel) - at 21.4 billion rubles. The total amount will be determined by the court. At the same time, the receipts, which indicate the costs of eliminating the accident, include such goods as spinning rods, spoons, beer mugs. According to Blokov, this case proves that the costs of eliminating the consequences of the accident do not correlate in any way with real success.
In addition, the companies manage to avoid criminal prosecution for oil accidents. According to Blokov, serious environmental violations are often not perceived as crimes in Russia. “This is especially true of massive oil spills due to bursts of oil pipelines. Spills number in the thousands a year, and criminal cases for environmental pollution - in a few. For some reason, these events are not considered as criminal offenses, while the spill of oil products from a car that has had an accident is being considered ”, - he said.
Ivanov believes that glasnost can help in the fight against spills. This principle is already used in the United States. “Nothing happens publicly in our country, we have such a position: we will figure it out ourselves, and you, people, don’t bother. And it is clear that if publicly, there is not much to steal and not deceive, "- says the chairman of the Committee for the Salvation of Pechora.