Friday, March 14, 2014

Sakha Energy and Resources : Some Thoughts

                                        Sakha  Energy and Resources : Some Thoughts
                           This week is going to deal with the exploitation of natural resources and its management in the Sakha Republic.To a certain extent the handling of natural resources is much common in large area of Russian North.As i discussed in my earlier blog Russian North is rich of  natural resources and exploited in different way by the federal government.But the regional government or people are not benefited much by the federal government's policies but they are the one who faces the negative impact of the mineral extraction.The Russian North which includes the big chunk of Sakha Republic still remain as economically backward with limited manufacturing industries.It is still remain as a raw material producing area with limited infrastructure for converting it into finished products.Studies shows that the effective use of natural resources such as diamond, gold, oil, gas and coal may help Sakha and other parts of the Russian North to become financially independent and also convert these areas fit for more human settlement.But not-so well planned exploitation of natural resources causes more troubles than gains.

                        Sakha Republic's natural landscape changed significantly by the wide scale of mining for various natural resources such as diamond, gold, oil and gas.Another major issue with the hydro electric plants in almost all major rivers of the region.Sakha Republic's well known diamond mining is only possible with the underground nuclear explosions. The nuclear residues of these explosions causes various environmental issues.Similarly oil and gas exploration of the Russian North creates further environmental problems.It is well known fact that the oil exploration contaminates underground water system and through that other water bodies too.Besides in the case of  the Sakha Republic, waterways are the only way which can use for the export of oil and other related products.It may causes for the spill over of oil and polluting of fragile Arctic river systems.Spilled oil creates a layer over the water bodies and absorbs oxygen for its oxidation process.This process naturally leads to the lack of oxygen for the existence of various living beings of the rivers such as fishes. It also converts the large part of the affected area as dead zone.

                              Researches shows that petroleum products of the concentration of 1.2 mg/liter is enough for the destruction of fish eggs and larvaes. For example tank farms of  Batagai, Zhigansk, Nizhneiansk, Ust-Kuiga, Zyrianka and others already released around 3,000 mg of petroleum products and 1.5 - 2 mg of tetraethyl lead per litre of water.Pollution of Yana River with petroleum products is almost six times of the 'Maximum Permissible Concentrations (MPC)'. The cases of other Arctic rivers are also not different.This level of pollution already threatens the survival of fish species such as muksun and inconnu. Pollution of  rivers naturally lead towards the pollution of fragile Arctic Ocean. Studies shows that the spilled oil take almost fifty years to decompose in Arctic situation.It also increases the seriousness of the issue.The irresponsible mineral extraction and release of the toxic wastes already converted some of the rivers of the Sakha Republic such as Ireliakh and little Botuobuia into a drainage.The diamond and gold extraction also causes for the similar developments.For example 'Klerichi' a toxic fluid which uses for the final stage of diamond extraction may causes for the Cancer or mental or physical abnormalities.The mining of gold also releases pollutants such as sulfates, chlorides, iron, copper, manganese, and cyanides into the river systems.

                            Experts point towards the lack of manufacturing as one of the main drawback of the Sakha industry.Even in 2001, the share of manufacturing is only 8% of the Sakha industrial production. At the same time place such as Alaska which is quite similar to Sakha in several aspects crossed 30% even in mid 1980's. So we can see some serious problem lies in the regional development policies of the Moscow.The major issue with this policy is that very limited authority of the regions over the exploiters of the natural resources of their territory.In effect federal government has a strong control over the distribution of license and other rights to various parties who are not directly linked to the region.A region such as Sakha Republic which  still imports major chunk of its food and consumer products from other parts of  Russia  do not have big say over the developments on its own region.The solution to the problems of Sakha only materialized through the more responsible behavior of the resource exploiters and the proper co-ordination of both federal and regional governments in the managerial level. The experts also point towards two other important solutions for the rapid development of the Russian North in general and Sakha in particular.They promotes the use of coal over energy resources such as oil and other petroleum products.Estimated coal reserves of the Sakha comes around 36.6 % of the total Russian production.Similarly experts also argue for the upgradation of technologies and industrialization of the Northern region.It may lead to the reduction of the pollution and integration of Sakha and other parts of the Russian North well into the Russian economy.It may also helps Russia to reassert its position in North East Asia.


1) Balzer, Marjorie Mandelstam ( 2006), " The Tension between Might and Rights : Siberians and Energy Developers in Post - Socialist Binds," Europe - Asia Studies, 58 (4) : 567 - 588.

2) Bykov, A (2006), " Natural Resource Management : Regional Policy in the Far North", Russian Social Science Review, 47(6) : 86 - 96.


No comments:

Post a Comment