Environmental Devastation From Russia's Oil Drilling Considered Routine

It's on the scale of a Deepwater Horizon spill every 2 months - except that it's considered the cost of doing business. Aging pipes, lax oversight and inclement weather all combine to make an estimated 5 million tons of annual spillage.
December 20, 2011, 5am PST | Irvin Dawid
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While the weather is harsh, AP also looks at drilling in Canada and Norway and even Nigeria, where spills result in part from rebel attacks, but none are on the scale of the world's largest oil producer. While aging pipelines are a major cause, outdated technology is also a great contributor - even new pipelines begin leaking shortly after operation. Total spillage is estimated at 1% of annual production.

"It is happening everywhere," Ivan Blokov, campaign director at Greenpeace Russia, said. "It's typical of any oil field in Russia. The system is old and it is not being replaced in time by any oil company in the country."

That observation was corroborate by Russian researchers.

"Oil and oil products get spilled literally every day," said Dr. Grigory Barenboim, senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Water Problems.

The results are vast dead stretches of forest, tundra, rivers, and lakes. The Russians estimate that 10-15% of the leakage runs into rivers that empty into the Arctic Ocean. Russia is already making plans to drill in the Arctic though its clear that their technology is not prepared for it.

"Over the past years, environmental risks have increased more sharply compared to how far our technologies, funds, equipment and skills to deal with them have advanced," Barenboim said.

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Published on Sunday, December 18, 2011 in AP via Yahoo Finance
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