Russia: LUKOil starting seismic exploration in indigenous territory without any consultation
Residents of Krasnobor, a village locate in the heartland of the indigenous Iz’vatas Komi people, who have for almost a year been protesting the misconduct of the oil producer LUKoil Komi, have recently alerted the Committee to Save the Pechora. They reported of seismic exploration works going on in the direct vicinity of the village. Therefore, the Committee’s chair Fyodor Terentyev and residents of Krasnobor undertook a visual inspection of the winter road and the base camp of the seismic crew near the village. They took photos and recorded the GPS coordinates of the places where exploration had been undertaken of the base of the seismic crew.
The area targeted by the seismic exploration is a swampy terrain located about 10-15 km south from Krasnobor. An area of 120 square kilometres will be covered with a grid of seismic profiles of 4 meters width each, they will run in parallels every two to three hundred meters amounting to a total of 1200 kilometres. The profiles criss-cross the river Lyokneridz and many streams dozens of times.
Despite all this, no consultations or hearings on the project have been undertaken. This has been confirmed by members of the village council of Krasnobor and representatives of local businesses and and organizations. The area contains three ancestral territories of indigenous hunters. These territories are not recognized by Russia, which refuses to acknowledge the Iz’vatas Komi as indigenous people.
LUKOIL Komi responded to the allegations saying that for seismic explorations no public consultations are required: the oil company only has to obtain a lease from the Forest Committee of the Komi Republic.
Fyodor Terentyev comments: "So it turns out that it one beautiful day we may wake up, only to see heavy tractors and machinery, destroying everything in their path on the outskirts of our towns and villages, where we used to gather mushrooms, berries, and just enjoy nature, - and all this legal?! The question arises: what are the laws by which we live today? And who made these laws?"
The committee has submitted the evidence gathered during the inspection to the judiciary and the regional forestry department. Whether they will intervene to stop the abuse remains to be seen.