Baltic oil projects to proceed

  • 2003-08-14
  • From wire reports
STOCKHOLM/KALININGRAD - An offshore oil drilling project in Kaliningrad and the announcement of another in Swedish waters has led local activists to ring the alarm bells of environmental risks.
Local media in Stockholm reported on Aug. 11 that a Swedish company would test-drill for oil east of the island of Gotland next year.
Oljeprospektering AB, a unit of Svensk Petroleum, has won permission to launch test-drilling first in Latvian and then in Swedish waters, according to reports.
It will be the first Baltic Sea oil exploration attempt for Sweden in over a decade.
During the 1990s, the company test-drilled in 17 different spots in the Baltic without finding oil, spending 350 million Swedish kronor (39 million euros) in the process.
The announcement drew an immediate protest from Green-peace, which called it an "unacceptable environmental risk."
The Baltic's ecosystem is already in crisis, due to excessive fishing and maritime traffic, said Greenpeace, not least of all from oil tankers.
Meanwhile, Lithuanian En-vironment Minister Arunas Kundrotas complained that Russia has procrastinated in providing its neighbor with detailed information about the technology Lukoil, the country's largest oil company, intends to use while extracting crude from the D-6 shelf off the coast of Kaliningrad Oblast, just 20 kilometers from the Curionian Spit.
"If Russian leaders are certain of the use of safe and benign technologies then why not share the information with us?" Kundrotas said.
The minister said he outlined his apprehensions about the D-6 project in a letter to his Russian colleagues several weeks ago but had yet to receive a reply.
"For the past two years we have been repeatedly asking Russia for an analysis of the project's environmental effects" but have met only with defiance, said Kundrotas.
In December Lukoil began pumping oil from the deposit, and the company hopes to produce some 700,000 – 1 million tons of crude per year.
The company plans to utilize the oil field for some 25-30 years.
In an interview with a Kaliningrad newspaper, Governor Vladimir Yegorov said he was not worried about the project's environmental risks.
"Knowing the technology Lukoil will apply at D-6, I am absolutely calm about the environmental aspect of the project," Yegorov told Kaliningradskaya Pravda.
Lithuanian environmentalists and the Greens have continued to express concerns about the D-6 project due to its proximity to the Curonian Spit, which was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001. (AFP, BNS)