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Greenpeace: Russia has no appetite to control oil spills

As much as 1,000 barrels of oil spilled from a Russian oil pipeline on Sakhalin Island.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   March 4, 2016 at 9:31 AM
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MOSCOW, March 4 (UPI) -- Following an oil spill in eastern Russia, Greenpeace said oil companies struggling through a market downturn have no appetite to fix aging pipelines.

A pipeline on Sahkalin Island ruptured earlier this week, leaving about 1,000 barrels of oil spilled across an island near the village of Ekhabi. Russian oil company Rosneft said the rupture was the result of operations of its subsidiary, RN-Sakhalinmorneftegaz.

A federal environmental agency was responding alongside the state-backed oil company. According to Greenpeace, the oil had migrated to an area river, were crews were burning off residual oil. Rosneft denied the oil had contaminated regional waters.

Vladimir Chuprov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, told UPI energy companies in Russia have no appetite for the investments needed to ensure their operations are safe.

"It would cost Russian oil companies as little as 10 percent of their net profit to repair all oil pipelines in this country and prevent further leaks," he said. "It's the same amount of money they would have spent on penalties and damage compensation if Russian government had earnest control over oil spills."

The Kremlin has been reviewing privatization options as the Russian economy risks lingering in recession because of the strains brought on by Western sanctions and low crude oil prices. Last week, Deputy Finance Minister Yuri Zubarev said privatizing state oil company Rosneft could bring in as much as $6.5 billion to the federal budget.

Greenpeace has been a persistent critic of Russian energy policies. Advocates, dubbed the Arctic 30, scaled a Russian drilling rig in 2013 set for work in an Arctic field to raise awareness about the risks of an oil spill in the harsh northern environment.

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