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Kazakhstan to create rescue team at Caspian Sea

14 may 2013, 18:49
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Photo courtesy of kazenergy.com
Photo courtesy of kazenergy.com
Kazakhstan Emergency Situations Ministry will form a rescue team at the Caspian Sea, Tengrinews.kz reports.

“Last December the decision was made by the Prime-Minister to transfer the North-Caspian Rapid Response Base to us. It will be used to create a navy rescue team at the Caspian Sea. This will be the first such team at this sea,” Kazakhstan Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhko said in the Majilis (lower chamber of the Parliament).

According to the Minister, the team will be funded by subsoil users (mainly oil producing companies) who will pay for the services consisting in fighting fires and oil spills.

“What concerns the financial part, we will sign contracts with offshore companies and they will pay for the services consisting in fighting spills and fires in the offshore zone. That means that we will be financed by them,” the Minister said.

According to Bozhko, forming up the team does not lift obligations to respond to emergency situations from the oil companies.

“We want to create the structure in the framework of the contract with Kashagan field operators. There is already a base created under the production sharing agreement and it will render support. We are there to eliminate fires and blowouts on the ground," he said.

The existing base in called Ak Beren and is based in Atyrau, a Kazakhstan city near the Caspian Sea. It is well known to oil companies working at Kashagan for its bills. The team's main objective is to ensure industrial security through preventive works and actual response in case of an accident. They are called to deal with gas and oil blowouts and spills and fires.

"We will not take anything from them (oil companies) as an emergency response has to be ensured. But we will additionally develop our own infrastructure to be able to work on second- and third-level spills,” the Minister explained.

He also said that the Emergency Situations Ministry was unable to eliminate emergency situations like third-level spills. “We cannot eliminate all the incidents happening in the sea. We are not able to eliminate a third-level spill. There are companies that quench fires and eliminate third-level blowouts around the world and the subsoil users have signed the contracts with them,” he said.

Oil developing companies and local rescue teams are expected to be able to cope with minor and even medium-sized spills. And for disastrous cases Kashagan contractors have got contracts with companies dealing with large spills. These companies will arrive to Kazakhstan with their equipment in case of a third-level oil spill. But since Kazakhstan is a land-locked country bordering on China and Russia it will take quite a while for the western companies to bring in their equipment. Even with the swiftest actions of Kazakhstan anchorites in terms of vises for the people and customs clearance for the equipment it will take about three days before the companies will be able to start dealing with the disaster.

One of the manifestations of the dangers posed by Caspian Sea oil fields happened in the last years of the Soviet Union. Kazakhstan's huge Tengiz oil field blew out in 1985 and kept burned for more than a year before it could be eventually put out after 3 million tons of oil and tens of billions of cubic meters of different gases were burned.

Speaking about oil spill risks at Kashagan field North Caspian Operating Company B.V. External Relations Director Pierre Delpont said: "Modern technologies and the advanced equipment suggest minimal risk of emergency cases. But at the same time we are ready for any surprise. The company has infrared analyzers to discover oil on the water, 20 miles of booms, 20 skimmers allowing to remove oil from water and ice, and other sorts of equipment."


By Renat Tashkinbayev

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