Dec. 28 (UPI) -- The development of parts of the Arctic north of Russia has left its environment at risk from scrap materials and oil residue, a regional leader said.
Sakhamin Afanasyev, the minister of ecology for the Sakha republic, the largest in Russia, said companies working in the extreme climate have spent about $138 million this year on protecting the environment. Most of that was spent on treatment, waste management and emission abatement strategies.
"Over the time of the north's development, the environmental damage has been significant," the minister was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying. "The biggest damage comes from scrap metal and from oil residues."
Some of Russia's largest oil and gas projects are located in the Arctic north. Regional governors, meanwhile, are looking to economic "backbone zones" in the area to advance the development agenda.
Novatek, the largest private natural gas company in Russia, leads a liquefied natural gas project aimed at supplying the markets in the Asian-Pacific. It controls 60 percent of the project in the Arctic north of Russia, alongside French energy company Total and the China National Petroleum Corp.
The Yamal LNG project has the capacity to produce about 16.5 million tons of natural gas and exports could target consumers in the Far East. The first train, the facility that converts gas to the liquid form, went into production in early December and Total said the first actual shipment of LNG left the northern facility on Dec. 8.
Tass added that parts of northern Russia were littered with unattended facilities and scrap metal. For energy development, the Russian branch of Greenpeace said in a 2014 report that Russia has advanced eagerly on oil and gas opportunities "while failing to comply with Russian safety and environmental regulations." That year, Russian oil company Gazprom Neft was fined about $1 million for oil spills in parts of Siberia.