Tag Archives: Lukoil

Depopulation via Oil Spills: Uninsk,Russia 1994

 

Oct 14, 2006

Russia’s government, keen to show it is not only targeting foreigners for environmental breaches, said yesterday it might strip up to 19 licences from domestic giant Lukoil.

Russia’s outspoken environmental watchdog Oleg Mitvol led the criticism of the nation’s top oil firm while on a trip to the Arctic north of the Komi republic in western Russia, where Lukoil is active.

After listening to villagers’ complaints about pollution, he prodded a frozen pond with a stick to reveal oily-looking water underneath. “In the rest of the world, companies work according to environmental regulations. But here in Russia for the past 15 years people have been doing whatever they wanted,” he said.

Markets were sceptical that Russian environmental authorities, who have waged a fierce campaign against Royal Dutch Shell’s giant Sakhalin-2 project, would actually remove licences from a Russian oil giant.

Lukoil’s shares were up almost 3 per cent at 2,085 roubles 61.71) by lunchtime yesterday, despite Mr Mitvol’s threats.


Oil and gas pipelines social and environment impact assessment from daydev

Mr Mitvol, who works under the Natural Resources Ministry, has also been vociferous in his attacks on foreign companies working on Sakhalin. “Everywhere I’ve been in Russia, I’ve never seen anything as bad as Sakhalin,” Mr Mitvol said.

But he added that foreign firms were more cooperative than Russian firms, which needed to put their house in order too.

In 1994, the republic of Komi, where Usinsk lies 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Arctic Circle, became the scene of Russia’s largest oil spill when an estimated 100,000 tons splashed from an aging pipeline.
It killed plants and animals, and polluted up to 40 kilometers (25 miles) of two local rivers, killing thousands of fish. In villages most affected, respiratory diseases rose by some 28 percent in the year following the leak.
Seen from a helicopter, the oil production area is dotted with pitch-black ponds. Fresh leaks are easy to find once you step into the tundra north of Usinsk. To spot a leak, find a dying tree. Fir trees with drooping gray, dry branches look as though scorched by a wildfire. They are growing insoil polluted by oil.
Usinsk spokeswoman Tatyana Khimichuk said the city administration had no powers to influence oil company operations.
“Everything that happens at the oil fields is Lukoil’s responsibility,” she said, referring to Russia’s second largest oil company, which owns a network of pipelines in the region.
Komi’s environmental protection officials also blamed oil companies. The local prosecutor’s office said in a report this year that the main problem is “that companies that extract hydrocarbons focus on making profits rather than how to use the resources rationally.”
Valery Bratenkov works as a foreman at oil fields outside Usinsk.
After hours, he is with a local environmental group. Bratenkov used to point out to his Lukoil bosses that oil spills routinely happen under their noses and asked them to repair the pipelines. “They were offended and said that costs too much money,” he said.
Activists like Bratenkov find it hard if not impossible to hold authorities to account in the area since some 90 percent of the local population comprises oil workers and their families who have moved from other regions of Russia, and depend on the industry for their livelihood.
Representatives of Lukoil denied claims that they try to conceal spills and leaks, and said that no more than 2.7 tons leaked last year from its production areas in Komi.
Ivan Blokov, campaign director at Greenpeace Russia, who studies oil spills, said the situation in Komi is replicated across Russia’s oil-producing regions, which stretch from the Black Sea in the southwest to the Chinese border in Russia’s Far East.
“It is happening everywhere,” Blokov 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.”
What also worries scientists and environmentalists is that oil spills are not confined to abandoned or aging fields. Alarmingly, accidents happen at brand new pipelines, said Barenboim.

Other oil sites in the Komi area, close to the town of Usinsk, include Total’s Kharyaga PSA, although it was not in Mr Mitvol’s sights yesterday.

The Natural Resources Ministry in Moscow said eight Lukoil deposits in Khanty-Mansiisk in western Siberia and 11 in Komi could lose licences due to alleged breaches of licensing terms.

“The inspections are a part of a state campaign to strengthen control over the oil and gas sector,” said Valery Nesterov, an energy analyst at Troika Dialog brokerage. But he downplayed the risk that Lukoil might be deprived of valuable licences. “The list of the companies which have been threatened with having their licence revoked is very long but no licences have actually been withdrawn so far,” he said.

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Russia’s Population Meltdown
Declining birth rates and soaring rates of disease now threaten Russia’s very survival as a nation.

Last July, in his first annual presidential address to the Russian people, President Vladimir Putin listed the 16 Amost acute problems facing our country. Number one on the list, topping even the country’s dire economic condition and the diminishing effectiveness of its political institutions, was the declining size of Russia’s population. Putin put the matter plainly. The Russian population is shrinking by 750,000 every year, and (thanks to a large excess of deaths over births) looks likely to continue dropping for years to come. If the trend is not altered, he warned, the very survival of the nation will be endangered.

Unfortunately, even Putin’s grim reckoning of the numbers may understate the dimensions of the calamity confronting his country. Its birthrate has reached extraordinarily low levels, while the death rate is high and rising. The incidence of HIV/AIDS, syphilis, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases is soaring, even as the Russian health care system staggers. Perhaps 40 percent of the nation’s hospitals and clinics do not have hot water or sewage. Seventy-five percent or more of pregnant women suffer a serious pathology during their pregnancy, such as sepsis, toxemia, or anemia. Only about 25 percent of Russian children are born healthy. (The rate of infant mortality, however, has declined, at least according to official statistics.) The leading Russian pediatrician Aleksandr Baranov estimates that only five to 10 percent of all Russian children are healthy.

As if these challenges were not enough, Russia bears the burden of decades of environmentally destructive practices that have a direct, harmful impact on public health. Their legacy includes not just conventional pollution of the air and water but serious contamination around many nuclear and chemical sites throughout the country. In Dzerzhinsk and Chapayevsk, two of the 160 military chemical cities that produce chemicals for the military-industrial complex, the rate of spontaneous abortions or miscarriages is above 15 percent of conceptions a strong indication of chromosomal aberrations produced by the environment. Yet a weakened Russia lacks the means to contain ongoing pollution or to begin the monumental task of environmental cleanup. The decline in the size of the Russian population, and in Russians’ general health, vastly increases the difficulty of creating the economic health upon which such a cleanup and so much else depends.

It is not only compassion that should arouse the concern of the West. While some may cheer the weakening of this less-than-friendly power, still armed with large numbers of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, Russia’s sickening decline raises the twin prospects of political disintegration and subsequent consolidation under an authoritarian leader hostile to Western interests. The nation’s problems, in any event, can no longer be thought of as somehow only its own. Last year, an unclassified U.S. National Intelligence Estimate warned that the global rise of new and re-emergent infectious diseases will not only contribute to social and political instability in other countries but endanger U.S. citizens at home and abroad. Deaths from infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS) in the United States have nearly doubled, to some 170,000 annually, since 1980. And Russia’s deteriorating weapons stockpiles pose a threat of unknown dimensions, particularly to the nearby Scandinavian countries.

The broad outlines of Russia’s looming catastrophe can be sketched in stark terms. Russians are dying at a significantly faster rate than they are being born. Gloomy as it was, President Putin’s speech was based on the relatively rosy projections of the Russian State Statistical Agency, or Goskomstat. This scenario assumes an increase in the total fertility rate beginning in 2006, a decline in the mortality rate, and an increase in net in-migration. But only the latter projection is remotely plausible. By 2050, I believe, Russia’s population will shrink by one-third. In other words, it will drop from roughly 145 million today to about 100 million, a blow that even a stable, prosperous country would have difficulty sustaining.

My projections, based on a model developed for West Germany by the Population Reference Bureau, are less apocalyptic than those of some other Russian officials, Duma members, and demographers. A new study produced under the auspices of the Institute of Social and Political Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences, for example, predicts that population will decline to between 70 and 90 million by 2045. If one takes the annual 750,000 decrease noted by Putin and multiplies it by 50 years, the result is a drop in population of 37.5 million persons, to a net total of 108 million not far from my estimate of 100 million. The U.S. population, meanwhile, is projected by the U.S. Bureau of the Census to grow by 2050 from today’s 275 million to 396 million, a level almost four times the projected Russian population.

In broad demographic terms, one can say that Russia’s population is being squeezed by two pincers. On one side is the fertility rate, which has been falling since the early 1980s. Russian women now bear little more than half the number of children needed to sustain the population at current levels. In absolute terms, the number of annual births has dropped by half since reaching a high of 2.5 million in 1983. Due to Russia’s rising mortality rates, fertility would need to reach 2.15 births per woman just to reach the so-called simple population replacement level. As of 1999, however, the total fertility rate stood at 1.17 births per woman. That is to say, Russian women bear an average of 1.17 children over their entire fertile life, from ages 15 to 49. Fertility would need to rise by some two-thirds to reach the replacement level.

The Goskomstat projection points to an increase in fertility to 1.7 births per woman by 2006. But this prediction seems to be based on a simple extrapolation of existing trends that does not take into account the deterioration of Russians’ health. The harsh reality is that the number of women in the prime childbearing ages of 20 to 29 is falling, while the rates of sexually transmitted diseases among men and women (which affect fertility) and gynecological illnesses are both rising. The ranks of eligible parents, especially fathers, are being thinned by tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse, and other causes. Fifteen to 20 percent of all Russian families experience infertility, with males accounting for 40 to 60 percent of the cases. Even as mortality and disease take more and more young people out of the pool of potential parents, attitudes toward childbearing have changed for the worse. An estimated two-thirds of all pregnancies now end in abortions. It is hard to see how the hoped-for fertility gains will occur. A steeper decline in Russia’s population seems unavoidable.

Mortality rates are also assumed to rise in the official calculation, but much less markedly than I anticipate. Some perspective on the Russian situation is provided by a comparison with the United States, which projects an average life expectancy at birth and survival rates for specific age groups that are far from the best in the world especially among 15- to 19-year-old males, who kill themselves with drugs, alcohol, and motorcycles. But in the United States, a boy who lives to age 16 has an 88 to 90 percent chance of living to age 60. His Russian counterpart has only a 58-60 percent chance. And those chances are shrinking.

Tuberculosis is only one of the maladies whose surging incidence is not reflected in current Goskomstat projections. The disease flourishes among people weakened by HIV/AIDS, alcoholism, and poverty. Findings by the research institute of the Russian Federal Security Service project enormous numbers of deaths from tuberculosis. Whereas only 7.7 of every 100 new Russian tuberculosis victims died in 1985, the death rate is now 25.5 per 100. According to official reports, the number of tuberculosis deaths soared by 30 percent in the 1998-99 period. The 1999 death toll of 29,000 was about 15 times the toll in the United States, or nearly 30 times greater when measured as deaths per 100,000 population in both countries.

The Russian authorities also underestimate the future impact of HIV/AIDS, spread chiefly by sexual contact and intravenous drug use. Vadim Pokrovskiy of the Federal Center for AIDS Prevention, Russia’s leading HIV/AIDS epidemiologist, estimates there will be five to 10 million deaths in the years after 2015 (deaths that, I believe, aren’t reflected in the projections). Most of the victims will be 15 to 29 years old, and most will be males further diminishing the pool of potential fathers.

Moscow reported 2.5 new cases of HIV nationally per 100,000 population in 1998, but the actual rate may be five, 20, or even 50 to 100 times greater, according to Russian epidemiologists and health officials. (The U.S. HIV incidence rate was 16.7 new cases per 100,000 population in 1998.) The Baltic port city of Kaliningrad and its surrounding oblast hold the unhappy distinction of recording the highest official rate of HIV increase, at 76.9 new cases per 100,000. Moscow, however, is currently overtaking it.

Some Russian demographers take comfort from the fact that their country is not entirely alone, since deaths exceed births in a number of European countries. But in countries such as Germany and Italy, the net ratio is close to 1.1 deaths to every birth. In Russia, deaths exceeded births by 929,600 in 1999, a ratio of 1.8:1 . If health trends and environmental conditions are not dramatically changed for the better, Russia could see two or more deaths for every birth in the not-too-distant future.

None of this is to say that there are not some signs of improvement. Childhood vaccination rates for tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, and other diseases have risen since 1995. Vaccination for rubella (German measles), which causes birth defects when contracted by pregnant women in the first trimester, was added to Russia’s prescribed immunization calendar in 1999. (How­ever, no vaccines are produced in the country and none are yet imported; almost 600,000 cases were reported in 1999.) But the larger trends support the vision of looming demographic catastrophe. And a number of other developments also offer dark portents for the country’s future rates of fertility and mortality, and for the general health of its people, especially its children.

Sexually transmitted diseases have seen incredible rates of increase during the past decade. These diseases cripple and kill, damage reproductive health, and are associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS. The causes can be traced to the explosion of pornography and promiscuity; to the growth of prostitution, notably among 10- to 14-year-old girls; and, especially, to drug abuse involving shared needles and syringes. In 1997, the Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated that the market for illegal drugs was around $7 billion, 600 times greater than in 1991.

The Russian Ministry of Health reported 450,000 new cases of syphilis in 1997, and Goskomstat published a figure of close to 405,000. These are the last reasonably accurate statistics we are likely to have, thanks to a 1998 law that imposes prison terms on syphilitics who contract the disease through drug abuse.

Just as one would predict, the number of registered new cases of syphilis declined in 1998 and 1999. However, the explosion in new cases of HIV, and a concomitant increase in the estimated number of drug addicts, belie the latest figures on syphilis. The epidemiological synergy between HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (including gonorrhea, which is vastly under-reported) suggests not only that syphilis is more widespread than reported but that further increases in the incidence of HIV/AIDS can be expected.

The 1998 law that classified drug addicts as criminals ensured that few addicts a group at high risk for HIV will seek treatment. A specialist cited in Komsomol’skaya Pravda in 1998 made this grim prediction: We will see increased risk of complications and overdoses, the death rate among drug addicts will rise, incidence of HIV/AIDS will rise; and…the illegal market of drug-related services will begin to develop quite intensively.

Smoking is a habit among an estimated 70 percent of Russian males and one-third of females, and multinational tobacco companies aim to increase their sales in the country. The World Health Organization estimates that some 14 percent of all deaths in 1990 in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were traceable to smoking-related illnesses; it expects that number to rise to 22 percent by 2020.

Alcohol consumption reflects an epidemic of alcoholism. Russian vodka produced for the domestic market (usually in half-liter bottles) comes with a tear-off top rather than a replaceable cork or screw top because it’s assumed that the bottle, once opened, will not be returned to the refrigerator. An estimated 20 million Russians roughly one-seventh of the population are alcoholics. Russia’s annual death toll from alcohol poisoning alone may have risen to 35,000 in 2000, as compared with 300 in the United States in the late 1990s.

Hepatitis B has sharply increased in incidence, but the sole producer of vaccines for the disease told me in Moscow that only 1.3 million doses are produced annually to meet a total demand of 13 to 14 million doses. Perhaps even more alarming in the long run are increases in the incidence of hepatitis C, an illness that chiefly attacks the liver and requires a very costly treatment protocol. The disease is often fatal.

Micronutrients are in short supply, especially iodine. No iodized salt has been produced in Russia since 1991, and little or none has been imported. In young children, iodine deficiency causes mental retardation.

Avitaminosis is common. A longitudinal study by the Institute of Nutrition of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences finds shortages of folic acid as well as vitamins A, B complex, D, and E among 30 percent of the population.

Heart disease exacts a toll, in age-standardized death rates, more than twice that in the United States and Western Europe. The death rate from such disease per 100,000 population is currently 736.1 in Russia, 267.7 in Belgium, 317.2 in the United Kingdom, and 307.2 in the United States.

Cancer is becoming more common. New cases increased from 191.8 per 100,000 population in 1990 to 200.7 in 1998. The incidence is likely to rise as a consequence of long-term exposure to low doses of radiation from decades of nuclear testing, as well as to benzo(a)pyrene, dioxin, and other industrial carcinogens. As in so many other cases, official statistics understate the problem. There is significant under-reporting of breast cancer, for example, especially among women of Muslim origin, who are reluctant to seek treatment from male doctors.


To all the foregoing challenges to the Russian future we must add a daunting collection of environmental ills. Russia will have to cope with a legacy of industrial development undertaken virtually without heed of the consequences for human health and the environment, just as it will have to contend with the consequences of decades of testing and stockpiling of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

The crises that temporarily focus worldwide attention on these problems, such as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, only begin to hint at their severity. The news media beamed shocking reports of the 1994 Usinsk oil spill around the world, but it was only one of 700 major accidents and spills (defined as those involving 25,000 barrels of oil or more) that occur every year in Russia, spreading phenols, polyaromatic hydrocarbons, and a variety of other toxic chemicals. As Victor Ivanovich Danilov-Danilyan, the former head of the State Committee on Environment, notes, these losses are equivalent to about 25 Exxon Valdez spills per month!

Radioactivity remains a continuing concern. After the 1963 Test Ban Treaty barred open-air atomic weapons testing, the nuclear powers continued to conduct underground tests. But there was an important difference in the Soviet Union. There, many of the nation’s more than 100 nuclear explosions occurred in densely populated regions such as the Volga, as well as in the Urals and Yakutiya (Sakha) regions. After first denying that any of those explosions had been vented into the atmosphere, then Minister of Atomic Industry Viktor Mikhaylov later admitted that venting had occurred in 30 percent of the underground blasts.

What goes on today within the 10 formerly secret nuclear cities devoted to the development and production of nuclear weapons in Russia remains largely a mystery. Around the city of Chelyabinsk, a thousand miles east of Moscow in the Urals, some 450,000 Russians face unknown risks from a series of spills and accidents that occurred from the late 1940s to the 1960s. And area rivers may have been tainted by seepage from nuclear waste directly injected deep underground at the Krasnoyarsk, Dmitrovgrad, and Tomsk sites. Near the Tomsk-7 facility, the site of a serious nuclear accident in 1993, Russian and American environmentalists recently found evidence of phosphorous-32, a radionuclide with a half-life of only about two months. The discovery strongly suggests that radioactive wastewater used in cooling Tomsk-7’s two remaining plutonium-producing plants was illegally dumped.

Chemical pollution is widespread. Even in Moscow, which is home to much heavy industry, there is evidence that pollution has caused genetic deformities in the young [see photo, facing page]. In a study of the impact of chemical, petrochemical, and machine-building industries on human health, the Russian Ministry of Health found that newborns suffered congenital anomalies at a much higher rate (108 to 152 per 10,000 births) in industrial cities than in rural localities (39 to 54 per 10,000).

Alarming cases of mercury pollution, which causes illness and birth defects, have been reported (though aggregate official data have never been published). Three years ago, 16 tons of mercury was released upriver from the major northern city of Arkhangel’sk. In Krasnoural’sk, a city in the Urals that produces car batteries, Russian and American researchers have found that 76.5 percent of the children are mentally retarded. Lead is the cause. Cadmium and arsenic are prevalent in the air and land throughout much of Russia. In the Arctic north, wind-blown heavy metal salts and other pollutants from the city of Norilsk’s nonferrous metal plants have left the land barren and treeless for 75 kilometers to the southeast. Lakes and rivers everywhere are badly polluted by heavy metals dumped by industry and allowed to run off farmland. Estimates by the Yeltsin-era Ministry of Ecology and other observers suggest that only 25 to 50 percent of Russia’s fresh water is potable.

The world has not been blind to Russia’s plight. By late 1998, the United States and other donors had sent more than $66 billion in aid, according to a U.S. government estimate. The list of donors includes even South Korea, and recently officials of the European Union and the World Health Organization have recognized the need to act aggressively. But the aid has been inadequate and piecemeal, and its delivery has been hampered by corruption and inept administration. The frightening reality is that it may already be too late to help. Andrey Iliaronov, an economic adviser to President Putin, has pointed to 2003 as the year of reckoning, when the demographic crisis, the crumbling infrastructure, and the burden of massive foreign debt may combine to deal a crippling blow to Russia’s remaining productive capacity and thus, to its ability to help itself.

Where will the money come from for all the myriad improvements needed in reproductive and child health, for tuberculosis prevention and treatment, for HIV/AIDS cocktails of protease inhibitors? Who will supply the $400 billion needed to clean up the water supply over the next 20 years, or the $6 billion to clean up chemical weapons storage sites, or the hundreds of billions to clean up nuclear waste? The list of needs is depressingly long, and the Russian government has not always taken the right steps to address them. Last year, for example, President Putin abolished Russia’s main environmental agency, the State Committee on Environment, and transferred its responsibilities to the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is in the business of developing the country’s oil and mineral reserves. And yet, despite how daunting the task may seem, and how long the odds of success, we cannot simply ignore the ruin in Russia. The United States and other nations of the world have a profound interest in helping to avert an economic and demographic Chernobyl that would give a fearful new meaning to the word meltdown.
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Russian oil spill emphasizes decrepit, outdated petroleum recovery infrastructure

 

Some 2,000 tons of oil have spilled over the weekend at a crucial drilling field in Russia’s northern the Nenets Autonomous District after a two-day struggle to contain the leak causes by a combination of technical and human error, Russian and Western media outlets have reported. Charles Digges, 23/04-2012

The accident happened at the Trebs oil field, jointly developed by OAO Bashneft and OAO Lukoil, in the Nenets Autonomous District on Friday following work on an exploratory well, according to RIA Novosti.

The accident occured around 5:30 p.m. on April 20 and caused an uncontrolled oil blowout that rescue workers contained by around 6 a.m. Sunday, the Russian news service wrote, citing an Emergency Ministry official it did not identify.

Vladimir Bezumov, chief of the Russian Environmental Agency in the area, said the weekend spill could have produced between 800 and 2,000 tons and contaminated at least 8,000 square meters of land. Another 6,000 square meters of land are believed to have been slightly damaged, the Associated Press reported

Bellona President Frederic Hauge said that the spill “was not terribly major” and “that it was good that it was reported, as many that happen in this region are not.”

He did reemphasize, however, that money Russia is spending on new oil and gas field development projects should be put into overhauling Russia’s decrepit and leak prone oil and gas infrastructure.

The oil had been gushing for nearly two days before the workers finally capped the well Sunday morning, Emergency Ministry officials told Russian media.

Bezumov told AP it was too early to speak of the causes of the accident, but he said it was likely a combination of technical issues and human error.

The Trebs oil fields are developed by OAO Bashneft Plus, a joint venture between Bashneft and Lukoil, and hold about 153 million tons of oil, according to RIA Novosti.

Russian environmental officials will be preparing a lawsuit against the oil companies after the clean-up is over, Bezumov told the AP.

The area around the oil field is largely unpopulated but the oil spill has damaged pastures used by local reindeer herdsmen, said the agency.

An AP investigation last year showed that at least 1 percent of Russia’s annual oil production, or 5 million tons, is spilled into the environment every year.Source

 


If Luk Oil had and still has Shareholders Like BP ,Chevron and ConocoOil,you still think the Burgas Bombing was a terrorist act?

JUST READ THE REPORT! PLEASE DO!!!

its loss-making gas deliveries within Russia and to the former Soviet republics, thelatter for political reasons.
Table 2: LUKOIL Involvement in Foreign Upstream Projects during the 1990s

The Global Expansion of Russia’s Energy Giants

It was thought that Russian oilmen could gain valuable experience producingand upgrading extra-heavy crude. Venezuela, however, is inviting national oil companies (NOCs) instead of global majors to the Orinoco belt, being guidedas much by Caracas’ political agenda as by the promise of upstream expertise orfinancing. In that context, projects implemented by NOCs, led by Venezuela’sfinancially strained and operationally unsophisticated PDVSA, seem rather risky commercially.
A Tale of Downstream Failure
Compared to an impressive upstream track record, LUKOIL’s expansion intothe European downstream was stalling. In the 2000s, LUKOIL failed in its attemptsto buy the Polish Gdansk refinery, the Lithuanian Mazeikiu Nafta refinery, theEuropoort refinery in Rotterdam, and Hellenic Petroleum in Greece.The Greek case shows that these misfortunes have political origins. Between2002 and 2003, LUKOIL and the Greek Latsis Group attempted to buy Hellenic Petroleum. The Russian government wholeheartedly supported LUKOIL’s expansion; in December 2001, when President Putin visited Greece, much attention was devoted to Russian-Greek petroleum dialogueand Vagit Alekperov was a prominent member of the Russian delegation. In 2002 the LUKOIL-Latsis consortium was the only contender for Hellenic Petroleum, but in early 2003 Athens decided not to sell to LUKOIL, stating that the proposal of LUKOIL and Latsis Group was “unac-ceptable from the point of view of [Greece’s] national interests.”
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The 2008 campaign in the Spanish press, when LUKOIL was negotiating acquisition of 29.9 percent of Repsol, also showed that Europeans feared Russian energy companies to be vehicles of Russia’s political interests and did not dis-tinguish between state-owned and private entities. While powerful, these fear sare not universal, as LUKOIL acquired 49 percent of the ISAB refinery in Sicily from the Italian ERG in 2008. A year later it bought 45 percent of the Vlissingen refinery in the Netherlands from Total. The Vlissingen transaction, clearly, had political undertones, as the deal accompanied President Medvedev’s visit to the Netherlands.
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LUKOIL is the only Russian oil company to have entered the United States.In 2000, it acquired control of Getty Petroleum, owner of 1,300 fuel stations.In 2004, it bought another 779 retail outlets from its partner, Conoco Phillips;their relations are based on the principle of “your downstream for our upstream.”Nonetheless, since LUKOIL does not yet have its own refinery in the United
Europeans feared Russian energy companies to be vehicles of Russia’s political interests.

States, its business there seems largely a matter of prestige. However, there have been long-standing plans to buy or build a refinery in the United States so as to accommodate its rising oil output in Russia’s north. Together with its partner ConocoPhillips, LUKOIL now intends to invest in a new refinery on the U.S.eastern coast that will focus on processing Russian crude blends.


Special Energy Issue on Kazakhstan- The Report May 2012

 

SPECIAL ENERGY ISSUE covering May 2012
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In his words, US companies are involved in all major oil and gas projects in the country.
Kazakh KazMunaiGas and Russian Lukoil sign memorandum of understanding
KazMunaiGas Chiarman Lyazzat Kiinov and President of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov have signed amemorandum of understanding and a general agreement on cooperation in the field of personnel management to study the aromatic hydrocarbon production technology in Astana.“A memorandum of understanding between KazMunaiGas and Lukoil lays the foundation forcooperation between the companies in studying geological and geophysical data of freeunlicensed onshore and offshore sites in Kazakhstan,” KazMunaiGas said.The relevant program has been implemented since November 2011. Atyrau Oil Refinery expertshave been trained at the Lukoil-Permnefteorgsintez and Lukoil-Volgograd plants.Lukoil employees plan to study KazMunaiGas experience in professional standards development.About 46 employees of the Atyrau Oil Refinery are planned to be trained this year

 


British Special Services Kill Hostages in Nigerian Op

Source  

By John Helmer, Moscow March 11th, 2012

 

Imagine that Russian spetznaz troops were helicoptered into a foreign country, opening fire on a hideout in which Russian citizens were being held hostage by heavily-armed bad guys demanding a ransom for their captives. And suppose the outcome of the firefight was the deaths of the hostages. One can be sure the Anglo-American media would headline the operation as a botch-up demonstrating the incompetence of the Russian military, the Russian lack of respect for the human rights of its citizens, and the ruthlessness of President-elect Vladimir Putin for giving the foolhardy order to fire.

“The beginning of the end of Putin” would be the sub-text, just as The Economist has front-covered its reporting of Russia this week, while its sister publication, The Financial Times, tries to talk down Putin’s election majority, talk up Russian risk in the markets, and ignore the contrary evidence of the RTS index — up 24% since the start of the year; down 4.3% after election day, and up again by 2.2% yesterday. As a Moscow-based reporter of a US paper of record complains, his bureau has been under orders from headquarters to keep up the anti-Putin drum-beat to the exclusion of other news.

In truth, Russian special forces didn’t attack a compound in a northern Nigerian town, but the British did. That was on Thursday last, March 8.

A large number of people died, including the hostages, one British, one Italian. The operation was more than a fatal botch-up. The Italian government has announced publicly it did not know in advance of the military operation, and approved a ransom solution, not a military one. Easy for the Italians to claim with hindsight, especially since it’s not clear if Rome issued an explicit no-attack, no-fire order. But London is unapologetic, at least towards Rome.

The reports appearing in the Italian, Nigerian and then British media over the weekend claim Rome had agreed to pay a larger ransom than London, which cut the price down from €5 million to €1.2 million, including a deposit, followed by a phased release. The British Special Boat Service (SBS) reportedly used the deposit handover to follow the bad guys back to their hideout, where the SBS, with Nigerian backup, started their operation. It has been reported in Corriere della Sera that once they knew they were surrounded, the kidnappers asked for safe passage, leaving the hostages behind alive; this request was reportedly turned down in London, and countered with the British demand for unconditional surrender. That then led to the conclusion on the part of the kidnappers that they should dispose of the evidence against them, so they shot the hostages.

The hostage-taking occurred on May 12, 2011. So ten months have elapsed in which to identify the bad guys, locate their hideout, determine their price, plot the options, weigh the alternatives. The British cover-up has made it appear the bad guys were Islamic fundamentalists. Nigerian evidence suggests this was a commercial kidnapping, which is common in that country, often with complicity of and ransom-sharing with local, regional or federal Nigerian officials, military officers and the like. “We have always claimed responsibility for all the operations that we undertake, but we are not in any way responsible for the killing of the two foreigners,” the spokesman for the local Islamic fundamentalist organization has said. “It is not in our line of operation to take hostages.”

The cost of the British operation, including the final military failure, is several multiples greater than the discount ransom, and almost certainly more expensive than the original ransom. So much for the price London puts on the lives of its citizens.

There is a much longer story about how Moscow behaved during the 26-month captivity of Russian citizens in Nigeria between October 2003 and December 2005. The bottom-line of that one is that Moscow waited for much longer, paid a far higher ransom price, and recovered all the hostages alive and well. What isn’t well-known is that the Kremlin carefully plotted a military rescue operation, but concluded the risk of hostage casualties was too great to proceed. Also, the Nigerian Government was punished at the highest level for its involvement in the affair. Here’s a resume of that story.

The African Pride was a Greek-owned, Panamanian-flagged tanker which was caught smuggling crude oil from Nigeria in October of 2003. The contraband scheme was an elaborate one at the supply end, involving high-ranking Nigerian naval officers ashore and at sea, as well as an international oil trader of repute, who was the purchaser of the cargo once the tanker made port elsewhere. Several vessels were involved, with about 30,000 barrels of crude going out the backdoor every day. The African Pride was crewed by 12 Russian mariners, and one Georgian. When their vessel was apprehended by Nigerian police, it was loaded with 11,400 tonnes of oil. The crew was taken ashore under arrest. In time, however, the tanker, its officers and its cargo proceeded to make good their escape.

For two years the crew was held in a Lagos prison without trial. During that time, the Kremlin paid Russian lawyers and more than one special emissary to negotiate the release with the Nigerian authorities. On one occasion, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov delivered a personal demand to the Nigerian Ambassador in Moscow, as well as to a powerful Nigerian intelligence officer. In the final deal approved by the Kremlin, the Nigerians agreed to charge and try the crew for smuggling offences; convict them and sentence them to time served; and for the final three months, September to December 2005, while the Nigerians organized their show trial, the mariners were released on bail to live in the Russian embassy compound in Lagos. At the end of December they were convicted, released, and flown home.

It helped that the Nigerian Government at the time wanted to take a seat on the United Nations Security Council and needed to get Russia to lift its veto on everything Nigerian. There was also competition for the same seat, and for Russia’s favour, from South Africa. A great deal of money – roughly four times last week’s ransom — was at stake and discreetly on the table in these many-sided negotiations. How to pay it, and make sure the Nigerians stuck to the release terms, also took time and care on the Russian side. Although never acknowledged officially, the ransom or bribe was concealed within at least one, possibly two oil exploration concessions awarded by the Nigerian government to Russian oil companies, Zarubezhneft and LUKoil.

A source who was involved in the negotiations for release of the hostages has described in detail the military option, which was drawn up and discussed in Moscow during 2005. He says that a spetznaz operation would have involved a helicopter attack on the prison in Lagos, where the hostages were being held. There were multiple objectives – create a diversion to draw the Nigerian guards away from their Russian prisoners; blast a path into the cellblock where they were held; and shoot their way out on to the rescue helicopters. Non-military means to lull the Nigerians were also anticipated.

The problem acknowledged in the Kremlin was that the risk remained incalculably high that the Nigerians would kill the Russians as soon as the attack started, or use them as shields and see them dead in the crossfire. The Russians were also certain the Nigerians could not be trusted to honour their side of a release bargain, whether reinforced by bribes or not. In short, Moscow decided the risk of a fatal outcome for their citizens remained too high to justify the military option.

So the ransom was paid, and eventually everyone survived. Hostage-taking and kidnapping for ransom of Russian citizens continued in Nigeria (notably of six Russian employees of United Company Rusal’s aluminium smelter south of Port Harcourt in mid-2007). There have also been hostage-taking episodes involving Russian ships and seamen in Guinea and Benin. The Kremlin doesn’t invariably pay pirates and kidnappers, but in West Africa always. Let’s hear the Economist roar its disapproval of that.


Bulgarian PM Borisov Major Methamphetamines Traffic and Dependency on Lukoil : The Documentation

Borissov described himself as “Bulgaria’s biggest asset”
“We must continue to walk a fine line between being used by Borisov’s publicity machine and alienating an exceptionally popular and seemingly pro-American politician who may emerge as Bulgaria’s next leader. In other words, we should continue to push him in the right direction, but never forget who we’re dealing with.”This is the conclusion of a diplomatic report dedicated to now Bulgarian Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, sent by former US Ambassador to Sofia,Jonh Beyrle on May 9, 2006. The report’s confidentiality level is listed as SECRET/NOT FOR FOREIGNERS, only one level below the highest TOP SECRET – cables classified as TOP SECRET are not available to Wikileaks.The reasons for classifying the report are coded as 1.5 (b,d), meaning confidential sources have been used in its preparation.The cable has another characteristic – from a total of 978 reports sent from Sofia, there are just a few that have been checked and approved simultaneously by the Embassy’s political, military and security advisors, not just Ambassador Beyrle.


"The Dirt"
This is how Beyrle titled the section focusing on Boyko Borisov’s criminal past. Incidentally, the paragraph has the "lucky" number 13, while in the brackets, after 13, the level of confidentiality is purposely listed as SECRET/NOFOR, which corresponds to the highest level of classified information for this cable."13. (S/NF) Accusations in years past have linked Borisov to oil-siphoning scandals, illegal deals involving LUKoil and major traffic in methamphetamines. Information from SIMO tends to substantiate these allegations. Borisov is alleged to have used his former position as head of Bulgarian law enforcement to arrange cover for criminal deals, and his common-law wife, Tsvetelina Borislavova, manages a large Bulgarian bank that has been accused of laundering money for organized criminal groups, as well as for Borisov's own illegal transactions. Borisov is saidto have close social and business ties to influential Mafia figures, including Mladen Mihalev (AKA "Madzho"), and is a former business partner of OC figure Roumen Nikolov (AKA "the Pasha")."In their desire to downplay the American diplomats’ reports, those affected point out these are simply rumors, pedantically registered by diligent clerks at the Embassy. But in this case, we have something far more serious: the collective work of nearly the entire diplomatic team, citing the mysterious SIMO, confirming information about Borisov’s participation in serious criminal activities.A check of the Wikileaks site where about 13000 cables have been published so far, found only 4 mention of SIMO. According to the context,SIMO appears to be an agency related to the security and information domains, participating in theLegal Enforcement Commette eof the Ambassador, together with other known US agencies such as DEA.The second paragraph in the "Dirt" section focuses on ties between Borisov and Valentin Zlatev, CEO of Lukoil, Bulgaria."14. (S/NF) Borisov has close financial and political ties to LUKoil Bulgaria Director Valentin Zlatev, a vastly influential kingmaker and behind-the-scenes power broker. Borisov's loyalty (and vulnerability) to Zlatev play a major role in his political decision making. The Mayor hasengaged LUKoil in a number of public-private partnerships since taking office: LUKoil has agreed to donate asphalt for the repair of city streets,take on the upkeep of a Soviet Army monument, and finance construction of low-income housing. In a reciprocal gesture, Borisov has advocated using municipal land to develop new LUKoil stations. Though this may seem a significant quid-pro-quo, Borisov's public agreement swith LUKoil are only side deals in his much deeper and broader business relationship with Zlatev, which has been reported in other channels."Valentin Zlatev is also mentioned in the notorious cable, dedicated to organized crime in Bulgaria, sent by former US Ambassador, James Pardew: "LUKOIL’s representative in Bulgaria is VALENTIN ZLATEV... Lukoil's Bulgarian operations, through Zlatev, are suspected of strong ties to Russian intelligence and organized crime."The cable further reveals that Borisov makes discrete visits to the Russian Embassy, all while seeking recognition and public support from theUS for his political ambition


"I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth"

Surname: Alekperov

Name: Vagit

Fathername: Yusufovich

Position: Chairman of STC NK

Biography:

Born 01.09.1950 in Baku (Azerbaijan).

In 1974 he graduated from the evening department of the Azerbaijan Oil and Chemistry Institute, specializing in mining engineering on technology and complex mechanization of oil and gas fields development.

Since 1972 he worked as a driller in a production association “Kaspmorneft».

In the period from 1974 to 1979 he started as operator for oil and gas production, he soon became an engineer-technologist, then the shift supervisor, foreman, chief engineer and finally deputy chief of the oil field.

In 1979 -1985 Alekperov worked in management of manufacturing associations “Surgutneftegaz” and “Bashneft».

From 1985 to 1987 was the first deputy general director of «Bashneft» in Western Siberia.

From 1987 to 1990 he worked as general director of the production association “Kogalymneftegaz». In 1990-1991 – Deputy, First Deputy Minister of Oil and Gas Industry of the USSR.

In 1991 he became president of the oil concern «Langepas-Urai-Kogalymneft».

In 1993, on a decree of President Yeltsin the state concern «Langepas-Urai-Kagalym-oil ” was transformed into joint-stock company ” LUKoil “.

In 1995, Alekperov was chairman of the Board of Directors “Imperial”; in 1998, he became chairman of the supervisory board of the bank. At that time, LUKoil owned a stake of 26% shares of «Imperial» bank and bought from «Gazprom» another 7%. According to numerous publications in the media, “LUKoil” was late with the repayment of loan at 33 million dollars to the bank.

In 1998-2000, Vahid Alekperov was chairman of the Board of Directors in “Petrokommerts».

In April 1996 he was the confidant of Boris Yeltsin during the presidential election in the Tyumen region.

Since 1999 – Member of the Economic Council of the Government of Russia.

In January 2000, he was relieved of his duties as chairman of the board of directors of the company “LUKOIL”.

Since 2000 – present time- Chairman of the Board of Directors of OAO RITEK.

Since 2001- present time – Chairman of STC NK “LUKoil”.

According to the magazine “Finance”, his status for the year 2009 amounted to 7.60 billion dollars; he took the 4th place in rating of Russian billionaires.

Married; has a wife Larisa, a son Yusuf (born 1990). He tends to spend spare time with his family. He is fond of tennis.
Source: http://www.bfm.ru/yellowpages/celebrities/25/

Dossier:

In privy Alekperov’s name is “Don”. He even holds out his hand at the meeting so that one looks liking kissing it. Alekperov has earned an “every minute” respect due to the fact he knows the oil industry “inside and out». He started as a drill man, and rose to a director of field. As a professional he got formed in the Siberian Kogalym when leading «Kogalymneftegaz», thence the psychology “everything is possible” is. Also in Kogalym, Alekperov has received another nickname from drill men – Alec the First – for the fact that despite the party instructions, he built normal brick housesfor the workers , not shacks. Another story of those years: Alekperov sat down on the damaged oil pipe to give moral support to the welders fearing of explosion. In Alekperov’s days life level in Koglame was considered the highest in the USSR – payments for oil were made by real money. “Bright future” builder of was soon transferred to work in the Ministry of Petroleum Industry of the USSR. Alekperov was the youngest first deputy minister in the history of the Ministry. It is unknown who favoured him for the post. Leonid Filimonov headed the Ministry ( at first he headed «Nizhnevartovskneftegaz», then a president of Eastern Oil Company). Alekperov co-authored with to work out a scheme of vertical integration of oil companies – VINK. Thus, in late 1991 the first international oil concern «LUKoil» appeared in Russia, which consisted of “Uraineftegaz” and “Langepasneftegas.Alekperov met those companies’ heads back in Kogalym – Putilov Alexander and Yuri Shafranik (the latter subsequently headed the Petroleum Ministry and helped a lot to “oil king” Vagit in business). The structure of “LUKoil” also included the Perm and Volgograd refineries. The name of the concern consists of the first letters of the cities’ names as follows: Langepas, Urai, and Kogalym. A major shareholder and strategic partner of LUKoil became the U.S. Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO). LUKoil secured a reputation of Americanism company.
(Source: “aloud about …”, May 2003,” Top Secret “, November 2002)

Since then, not a single oil project has been passed by LUKoil. Exploration of Timan-Pechora, the Caspian and the Arctic shelfs, Baltic transit, construction of the Baltic Pipeline System and the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, building a new oil terminal in the north, the development of the tanker fleet, and the order for production of railway tank — “LUKoil” took part in everything. Moreover, the company tried to control directly the competing projects. The aim was expansing in all directions under the auspices of public interest. Today LUKoil – this is 1,3% of global oil reserves, and 2.3% of global oil production. Speaking of Russia, LUKoil is a 18.6% oil production and 18,1% of all-Russia oil refining.

In 1993, Boris Yeltsin signed a decree on privatization of the oil industry. At the same time Alekperov announced the idea that there should not be more than three or four oil companies in the country. He actually took the sweet spots of the oil sector.

The then President Heydar Aliyev hoped that Alekperov would defend the interests of Azerbaijan in Moscow, but everything turned out the opposite. Alekperov primarily defended the interests of Moscow. But in spite of exhibiting his loyalty, in the late 90’s Alekperov began conflicting with the authorities. On the one hand, Putin did not want to tolerate too large and independent monopolists. On the other hand, LUKoil became in the way of its main rival «Sibneft», the company of the “family”. As a result LUKoil was prosecuted for withholding taxes of hundreds millions of dollars. Viktor Kalyuzhny – an outspoken lobbyist of LUKoil resigned the post of Fuel and Energy Minister (it is noteworthy that Alekperov did not take him to the company, probably being displeased with the work of “hand-minister). Meanwhile, Alekperov was “caught» in a doubtful relation with criminal authority Bogomolov named Bogomol (Tyumen OPG). He was even listed at one of the LUKoil’s posts. Everybody in the underworld avoided communicating with Bogomol remembering the death of the famous thief in law “Shakro-old” (also Kakachia); he was killed in the vicinity of Berlin. It is believed that “godfathers” controlling “LUKoil” were involved in the murder, since shortly before his sudden death “Shakro-old» had quarreled with one of the heads of LUKoil.

MIA was aware of relations existing between the structures of “LUKoil” and the criminal world controlling the gasoline business. In particular, former Interior Minister Kulikov written about it in a note addressed to Chernomyrdin, but no decisions on that matter followed.

By the way, back in 1997 vice-president of LUKoil Vitaly Schmidt died from a coronary heart disease; his death was subsequently treated in the press as the murder by poisoning. Schmidt was an author of restructurization of offshore system in LUKoil, which was disadvantageous for Alekperov, and therefore was not implemented after Schmidt’s death. Relatives of Schmidt voiced accusations against Alekperov, Ralif Safin, and other leaders of “LUKoil” in the “Top Secret” program on the NTV channel.

First deputy of Alekperov Sergei Kukura also suffered after a few of years later. He was kidnapped by unknown persons, and then safely returned. Then it was discovered that lukoylovtsy had been engaged in the sale of diluted gasoline for a few years through its network of petrol stations. Tthe state treasury, according to conservative estimates of the tax police, was damaged in the amount of 4.5 billion rubles.

In 2000, the Federal Tax Police Russia announced the initiation of criminal proceedings against Alekperov and chief accountant of “LUKoil” Lyubov Hoba on the fact of “sheltering large funds of taxation». On the same day, Alekperov met President Putin in the Kremlin . As a result, the prosecution was not presented to him. In August 2000 Arbitration Court dismissed most of the claims of the Federal Tax Police Service against “LUKoil”.
(Source: “Profile” from 17.07. 2000; “Novaya Gazeta” on 20.12.1999)

In early 2000, LUKoil voluntarily refused of participation in financing project works on the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, although it had every right for a share in the future “pipe”. That sudden act of philanthropy had an explanation – Alekperov utmost tried to maintain the image of the most public, most patriotic company in Russia. refusal of share in the Azeri oil pipeline was supposed to emphasize the loyalty of “LUKoil”, which had been questioned after the establishment of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC).

Since the beginning of the First Russo-Chechen war, it was necessary to determine the routes for transporting of Caspian oil. The USA, Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan insisted on the south side of the Caucasus Mountains, while Russia – on the northern slopes of the Caucasus. Then LUKoil took a strange position, as it was acting against the public interest. LUKoil was for development of the field “Kyapaz». LUKoil signed the agreement with Azerbaijan on doing that. Official Ashgabat made a note of protest considering the agreement an intrusion on their territory. Russian Foreign Ministry was forced to justify itself, and to recognize Russia’s debt to Turkmenistan of $228.5 million as compensation. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that the choice of transporting routes of Caspian energy resources depended on position of Turkmenistan. In addition, Ashgabat was the only ally of Russia against the United States in struggle for the Caspian Sea.

As a result, Moscow failed the struggle from the very beginning. It was thanks to the policy of “LUKoil” that Caspian Sea had been divided into national economic zones. LUKoil also was an active participant in the intrigue on construction of the “pipe” bypassing Chechnya. MFA of Russia defended Russia’s route of transportation by all methods, including war in Chechnya. Meanwhile LUKoil expanded its presence in the Azerbaijani oil fields and was a member of the AMOK, which was going to drive oil through the “pipeline” Baku-Ceyhan. A friend of Alekperov- Viktor Chernomyrdin persuaded everyone that Russia’s national interests were met, referring to state status of LUKoil.

In the northern direction LUKoil pursued primarily its own profit. Having bought an oil company “KomiTEK” and in fact having absorbed it, LUKoil became the owner of majority deposits of the Timan-Pechora and the pipeline, which was supposed to become a part of the Baltic Pipeline sysetm (BPS). BPS – is a direct access to the world oil market, which Russia had lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Therefore, Putin took the BTS under his patronage, but LUKoil opposed that from the beginning. As a result, LUKoil developed an alternative BPS project called “Northen Gate”, which involved the construction of oil terminal in Varandey with capacity of 30 million tons per year with the following transportation by oil tankers. Under that project, LUKoil managed to gain ownership of the oil base of the Northern Fleet in Mohnatkina Pahta.
(Source: “Stringer” from 14.11.2000)

But Alekperov is famous for his capability to roll with the punches – Vagid Alekperov knows how to parley. He agreed with the authorities. As early as in 2002, Alekperov was called the favorite of the president. As they say, Alekperov is the man who does understand the system, and signals that authorities send. “It is impossible to separate the company’s interests from the interests of the State on which territory it operates», said he once. «We have the same interests. Everything that is good for Russia is good for our company.” In 2005, Alekperov received order “For merits before Fatherland» of IV degree from Putin. It is noticed that level of consumer prices for gasoline depends on conversations of Putin and Vagit Alekperov.

Today Alekperov owns 20,6% of LUKoil. Another 20% belong to the American ConocoPhillips, 9,25% – Vice President Leonid Fedun. Many experts believe that the whole empire of Vagit Alekperov has been created on money of the U.S. companies which control Russia’s projects through LUKoil.
(Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 16.02.2006)


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