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 Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

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: Superconducting vortices quantize ordinary metal

Russian researchers together with their French colleagues discovered that a genuine feature of superconductors -- quantum Abrikosov vortices of supercurrent -- can also exist in an ordinary nonsuperconducting metal put into contact with a superconductor. The observation of these vortices provides direct evidence of induced quantum coherence. The pioneering experimental observation was supported by a first-ever numerical model that describes the induced vortices in finer detail.

These fundamental results, published in the journal Nature Communications, enable a better understanding and description of the processes occurring at the...

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rapid water formation in diffuse interstellar clouds

25.06.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Using tree-fall patterns to calculate tornado wind speed

25.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Stealth' material hides hot objects from infrared eyes

25.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>