Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Whales Are More Precious Than Oil

15.03.2005


WWF and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) published results of scientific assessment of the “Sakhalin-2” oil and gas project’s (Sakhalin Energy company) impact on the Okhotsk-Korean population of grey whales. The findings are distressing: if only three females perish, this grey whale (Eschrichtius robustus) population will inevitably disappear.

An independent expert group of researchers has confirmed ecologists’ confidence: the “Sakhalin-2” oil and gas project threatens survival of grey whales, and the research carried out earlier by the oil industry workers themselves is only a “cover-up” for disturbed public opinion. However, the Sakhalin Energy company and the underlying SHELL corporation did not pay attention to the opinion of experts they had invited upon their own initiative, but publicly announced expansion of its activity on the Sakhalin shelf. But this is the only place in the world where whale females of the Okhotsk-Korean population nurse their babies and gain strength for long hibernation.
The representatives of the WWF, IFAW and other environmental organizations coalition are getting ready now for the meeting with the executives of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the US Export-Import Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation – these banks in particular are considering the possibility of credit extension to Sakhalin Energy for continuation of the petroleum production project. “The “Sakhalin-2” project is the biggest one throughout the entire history of the SHELL company, and in this case we see for ourselves its complete environmental and social irresponsibility”, says Igor Chestin, Director of the WWF of Russia. “We appeal to international financial institutions for not extending credits to this troublesome and unreliable project.”


The whale experts have come to two basic conclusions. Firstly, the data available as of today is insufficient to ensure protection for this whale population, which by the way was once considered extinct. The Okhotsk-Korean population is currently the smallest in the world– it only numbers 100 whales, out of which females that are able to give birth to babies make 23. The researchers have estimated that if only 3 females perish, these whales will not survive.

The second conclusion is – it is possible to reconcile oil production and safe existence of whales. However, that will require additional funds (according to different estimations – from $100 million to $4 billion). These funds are needed to transfer the future platform away from the whales’ feeding location – unfortunately, the animals can feed only on this particular plot of the world ocean being 60 km long and 4 km wide. There, near Piltun Bay on the north of Sakhalin, whales’ food – benthos, i.e. small Crustacea, – lives in abundance on the bottom. Whales scoop up ground silt and sand together with benthos, and then spit out everything unpalatable. Transfer of the oil-producing platform also means the necessity to drill a borehole horizontally – to draw it to the required location bypassing the whales’ “canteen”. But oil industry workers have not even estimated the exact cost of this work as they decided right away that whales are of no interest for them.

How does petroleum production threaten grey whales? The experts’ report outlines four major threats. Firstly, noise resulting from construction. This noise threatens to force the whales out of their “canteen”. However, these animals feed only for 5 months a year – near Sakhalin. If they go for hibernation without having put on enough fat, this would affect not only adult whales, part of whom may not live to see next summer, but would also impact pregnant females who will give birth to weak babies. Back in 2000, researchers already observed emaciated whales with prominent scapulas (a year before that, in 1999, oil industry workers installed the Molicpac, and the whales left their “canteen” being hungry). And the next phase of construction will be of much larger scale.

The second threat to whales is collisions with vessels, which will pass here in abundance. For this reason whales constantly perish all over the world.

The third threat is – the whales can simply stay without food. In the course of the construction, oil industry workers would disturb the bottom, and consequently, the majority of whales’ food will perish.

And finally, the last threat is – oil spillage that will necessarily occur as earthquakes are frequent in the area of Sakhalin, and oil-tankers quite often get distressed, thus causing oil spillage. Oil spillage is particularly dangerous in wintertime when ice prevents from removing oil at once. Then oil stays in water till spring killing all living substances. However, Sakhalin Energy assures that it is ready for oil spillage and is capable of removing it in the shortest possible time. But in last October, when a tanker belonging to the company was wrecked, and fuel-oil spilled into the sea, Sakhalin Energy demonstrated complete inability to remove the spillage – it took rescuers two days only to reach the location of wreck. This still remains an ecological disaster zone. This happened in the south of Sakhalin, in a densely populated area.

Sergey Komarov | alfa
Further information:
http://www.informnauka.ru

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>