"Economic Development and the Environment"
on the Sakhalin Offshore Oil and Gas Fields II

Copyright (C) 1999 by >Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University.
All rights reserved


Environmental Consciousness in Sakhalin:
Background and Views on the Sakhalin Offshore
Oil-Gas Development

Tsuneo Akaha and Anna Vassilieva


Impact on Self
From questions about the impact generally on the citizens of Sakhalin, we now turn to questions regarding expectations of impact specifically on the respondents themselves. We asked, "What benefits if any do you foresee for yourself as an individual citizen of Sakhalin?" As table 11 shows, people who expect no benefits for themselves outnumber those who do by 64 (49 percent) to 43 (39 percent). It is interesting that 71 people anticipate benefits for Sakhalin citizens in general but a substantially smaller number of people (43) expect benefits for themselves. That is, 28 respondents (25 percent) anticipate positive benefits for others but not for themselves.
Table 11. Expectations of Benefits for Self
Benefits for self # of respondents       %
Yes
No
NA*
43
54
13
39.1
49.1
11.8
Total 110 100.0
* Includes "no answer," "don't know."

Table 12 shows the types of benefits that respondents expect for themselves. As expected, economic benefits dominate the list. Of the 43 respondents who anticipate some benefits for themselves, 12 (about 28 percent) expect expanded job opportunities and 11 (about 26 percent) look to improved living standards for themselves. Another nine respondents (21 percent) expect the supply of natural gas to their homes to expand. Power outage, due to energy shortage, is a chronic problem in Sakhalin as it is in many other parts of the Russian Far East. The Sakhalin projects, therefore, are seen as offering a very important solution to this problem.

Table 12. Type of Expected Benefits for Self
Type of benefits for self # of respondents       %*
Employment opportunities
Improved living standards
Natural gas for home use
Better salaries
Better economy
Better air quality
Better roads
Financial stability
Improved health
Other**
12
11
9
7
4
4
3
2
2
1 each
27.9
25.6
20.9
16.3
9.3
9.3
7.0
4.7
4.7
2.3 each
*
**
Out of the 43 respondents who expect benefits for themselves.
Other benefits include: better information, new technologies, international communication, professional growth, better education, better health care, cheaper transportation, cheaper petro-chemicals, practical experience in environmental protection, and better resource management.

As Table 13 shows, almost one-half of our respondents expect some adverse consequences for themselves. They outnumber those who anticipate no negative consequences by 52 (about 47 percent) to 39 (about 36 percent).

Table 13. Expectations of Negative Effects on Self
Negative effects on self # of respondents %
Yes
No
NA*
52
39
19
47.3
35.5
17.3
Total 110 100.1**
*
**
Includes "no answer," "don't know."
The total does not equal 100% due to rounding error.

Environmental concerns are paramount among our respondents. A university student expressed the sentiment well when she wrote, "I am concerned about the fact that wildlife will be slowly dying. There will be dead fish all over our shores if oil film covers sea surface. I cannot be indifferent when nature in our area is being killed." Another respondent, a 50-year old land surveyor lamented, "I foresee negative effects not only for me personally but also for my children and grandchildren. I've lived in Sakhalin since 1950, and I've seen with my own eyes what communists have done to it, because I have walked across my island from north to south. I do not want it to be ruined completely."

As Table 14 shows, 31 respondents (almost 60 percent) expect environmental pollution to result from the Sakhalin oil and gas projects. Seven respondents (about 14 percent) expect health problems due to air and water pollution and contaminated food. Six respondents (about 12 percent) are concerned their access to traditional, natural food sources, including fish, will be reduced. Another five respondents (about 10 percent) fear a loss of work due to the destruction of fishing industry. Given the importance of fishing both as a source of food and a source of income for many Sakhalin citizens, these fears are quite understandable.*18

The breakdown of expectations by profession is shown in Table 15. Expectations of benefits are rather mixed for all groups. The only exception are the Oblast personnel, of whom eight are expecting to benefit personally and three are anticipating no benefits for themselves. Only two out of the 11 business people expect the oil and gas projects to benefit them. Students are again the most skeptical, only three of them expecting some benefits for themselves and nine anticipating no benefits. On the negative side of the impact, expectations are mixed among the media people, students, and scientists. Expectations of adverse consequences are more prominent among NGO members, teachers, and professors. Again Oblast duma members and administration officials are the most optimistic. Only a few city administration officials anticipate negative effects.

Table 14. Type of Negative Effects on Self
Type of negative effects on self* # of respondents %**
Environmental pollution
Health problems
Reduced access to natural food sources
Loss of work due to destruction of fishing
Price increases
Lower standard of living
Loss of work
31
7
6
5
3
1
1
59.6
13.7
11.5
9.6
5.8
1.9
1.9
*
**
Some respondents gave multiple answers.
Out of the 52 respondents who expect negative effects on themselves.

 

Table 15. Expectations of Impact on Self by Profession
  # of respondents Benefits to self Negative impact on self
Profession   Yes No Yes No
NGO
Media
Teacher
Business
Oblast
City
Student
Professor
Scientist
8
10
14
11
11
11
14
11
20
4
4
6
2
8
4
3
4
8
4
5
8
6
3
5
9
5
11
6
4
10
3
3
3
6
9
11
0
4
2
5
6
8
5
2
7
Total* 110 43 56 55 39
* The totals do not match because "no answer," and "don't know."are excluded.

Table 16 shows the breakdown by age. Here again the younger groups are the most skeptical. Thirteen out of the 21 people who are 24 years old or younger expect no benefits for themselves and 11 in this group anticipate negative effects on themselves. Ten out of the 17 people between the ages of 25 and 29 expect no benefits for themselves, while five of them fear they will be negatively impacted. If we divide our sample into two groups, between those younger than 40 and those over 40, 32 out of the 56 in the first group (about 57 percent) expect no personal benefits, whereas 20 out of the 52 respondents in the older group (about 38 percent) share the same pessimistic view.

Another interesting finding is that people in their 30s are evenly split between those in the first half of the 30s and those in the latter half. Most in the first group are expecting benefits for themselves, while most in the second group are not.
Table 16. Expectations of Impact on Self by Age
  # of respondents Benefits to self Negative impact on self
Age   Yes No Yes No
19-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-64
21
17
10
8
19
11
13
9
5
6
7
1
6
4
9
5
13
10
3
6
9
5
4
2
11
5
6
4
11
5
5
6
8
6
3
3
5
5
6
3
Total* 108 43 52 53 39
* The totals do not match because "no answer," and "don't know."are excluded.

Table 17 shows that men appear to be somewhat more optimistic than women. The male respondents are equally split between those who expect favorable benefits for themselves and those who do not, but the female respondents who expect no personal benefits outnumber those who do by 51 percent to 35 percent. About 46 percent of men and about 51 percent of women expect negative consequences for themselves, while 37 percent of men and 32 percent of women expect no such effects.

Table 17. Expectations of Impact on Self by Gender
  # of respondents Benefits to self Negative impact on self
Gender   Yes No Yes No
Male
Female
52
57
22
20
22
29
24
29
19
18
Total* 109 42 51 53 37
* The totals do not match because some respondents did not answer either or both of the questions about the expected impact on themselves.

Impact on Sakhalin's International Relations

To obtain the respondents' views of the expected impact of the oil and gas development projects on Sakhalin's place in the international community, we asked, "What benefits if any do you foresee for Sakhalin's relationship with the international community?" The answers we obtained indicate ambivalence among our respondents. On the one hand, most of our respondents believe the development will bring Sakhalin closer to the rest of the world, but, on the other hand, somewhat fewer but still a majority of the respondents are concerned there will be negative consequences.
Table 18 shows that 74 respondents (about 67 percent) have favorable expectations and 17 people (about 16 percent) foresee trouble. However, about one-third of those with positive expectations either condition their views on certain things happening or base their expectations on hopes and wishes rather than on definite facts. For example, a biologist wrote, "I hope we will learn to work without leaving consequences to our descendants" (emphasis added). A city assembly member wrote, "I think it [a benefit] is possible, provided we have wise leadership and investments" (emphasis added).
Table 18. Expectations of Benefits for International Ties
Benefits for international ties # of respondents %
Yes
No
NA*
74
17
19
67.3
15.5
17.3
Total 110 100.1**
*
**
* Includes "no answer," "don't know."
The total does not equal 100% due to rounding error.

 

Table 19. Type of Benefits for International Ties
Type of benefits for international ties # of respondents %*
Economic development
Investment
New technologies
Integration with world economy
Infrastructure improvement
Expanded trade
Scientific information
Tourism
Mutual understanding
Improved standard of living
Improved environmental protection
Exchange of practical experience
Employment opportunities
Closer ties with Asia-Pacific
Free-market experience
Cultural exchange
Other**
11
10
9
6
5
5
4
3
3
3
3
3
2
2
2
2
1 each
14.9
13.5
12.2
8.1
6.8
6.8
5.4
4.1
4.1
4.1
4.1
4.1
2.7
2.7
2.7
2.7
1.4 each
*
**
*Out of the 74 respondents who expect benefits.
Includes: democracy, cultural exchange, new equipment, better telecommunication, financial stability, population growth, better transportation, profits for companies, income for individuals, integration into global value system, spiritual development, etc.

Among the benefits frequently mentioned by the 74 respondents with favorable expectations are: economic development (cited by 11 respondents), expanded investment (10), introduction of new technologies (9), integration into the world economy (6), infrastructure improvement (5), expanded trade (5), and improvement of scientific information (4). (Table 19)

As noted above, there are also many concerns about adverse consequences for the island's relationship with the international community. Indeed, 59 respondents (54 percent) expect the oil and gas development projects will have some negative impacts. One respondent, an environmental specialist, expressed fear that the people of Sakhalin would be exploited by outsiders - a fear that is shared by many others, as we will note later in this paper. She wrote, "All this story of Sakhalin's relationship with the international community reminds me of Columbus' exploration of America. We, like native Americans, are offered glass necklaces in exchange for gold." Twenty-four respondents (22 percent) anticipate no negative consequences. As many as 27 respondents (25 percent) are not sure if there will be any negative consequences for the island's place in the international community. (Table 20)
Table 20. Expectations of Negative International Effects
Negative international effects # of respondents %
Yes
No
NA*
59
24
27
53.6
21.8
24.5
Total 110 99.9**
*
**
Includes "no answer," "don't know."
The total does not equal 100% due to rounding error.

What type of adverse consequences do Sakhalin citizens expect? Fifty-four out of the 59 respondents who anticipate negative impacts answered this question. The undesirable expectations they cite include: economic/business exploitation by foreigners (about 28 percent), depletion of natural resources (24 percent), social problems, including moral decay and income disparity (19 percent), environmental impact (17 percent), and political problems including corruption (13 percent). (Table 21) There is wide-spread fear that Sakhalin will be a target of exploitation by foreigners, that the valuable resources of the island would be developed primarily for the benefit of foreign markets. One respondent, a preschool teacher, expressed hopelessness bordering on despair: "We are slaves, third-class citizens, have to agree to any work conditions because of unemployment, lack of money, hopelessness, etc." Another respondent, a land surveyor wrote, "Sakhalin will lose in the psychological respect. Because of the financial difficulties in the country we have to practically give away our own resources and suffer being ordered around without being able to say anything." He continued, "Yankees treat Russians as second-class citizens, they discriminate against them by paying them lower wages. Russian officials try to please foreigners by giving them tax breaks or allowing them not to pay any local taxes."

Table 21. Type of Expected Negative Impact
Type of negative impact # of respondents %*
Economic/business exploitation
Resource depletion
Social problems
Environmental pollution
Political problems
15
13
10
9
7
27.8
24.1
18.5
16.7
13.0
Total 54 100.0**
*
**
Out of the 54 respondents who answered this question.
The total does not equal 100% due to rounding errors.

The breakdown by profession is shown in Table 22. All groups except students clearly expect the oil and gas projects will contribute to the improvement of Sakhalin's international relations. Skepticism among students is evident here. They are divided between those who expect favorable impact (8 out of 14) and those who fear negative consequences for the island's international position (5). When it comes to expectations of negative impact, however, nine students anticipate adverse consequences. Undesirable effects are also feared by most NGO members, media people, teachers, and university professors. Business people are evenly split. The scientific community is divided. City officials are the only group in which those who expect no negative impact outnumber those who do (by six to four).

Table 22. Expectations of International Impact by Profession
  # of respondents International benefits Negative international impact
Profession   Yes No Yes No
NGO
Media
Teacher
Business
Oblast
City
Student
Professor
Scientist
8
10
14
11
11
11
14
11
20
6
6
6
8
9
10
8
8
14
0
2
2
0
0
0
5
2
4
6
6
7
4
6
4
9
8
11
1
0
2
4
3
6
0
2
7
Total* 110 75 15 61 25
* The totals do not match because "no answer," and "don't know." are excluded.

When we break down the respondents by age, we notice that the generally favorable view of the Sakhalin projects' impact on the island's international relations is shared by all groups except the youngest two groups. Among all the other age groups, 53 respondents anticipate favorable impacts, as compared with only five who foresee no positive international impact for Sakhalin. On the negative side of expectations, younger groups are more pessimistic than older groups. Those under 25 are quite skeptical, with 12 of them anticipating adverse international consequences, as compared with only two who foresee no undesirable effects. Older groups are divided. (Table 23)

Table 23. Expectations of International Impact by Age
  # of respondents International benefits Negative international impact
Age   Yes No Yes No
19-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-64
21
17
10
8
19
11
13
9
11
9
10
3
14
10
8
8
7
4
0
0
3
0
2
0
12
8
7
5
8
6
7
5
2
4
2
2
4
4
4
3
Total* 108 73 16 58 25
* The totals do not match because "no answer," and "don't know." are excluded.

The breakdown of answers by gender reveals that women are more pessimistic than men about the impact of the Sakhalin projects on the island's international position. Table 24 shows that almost 80 percent of the male respondents expect the Sakhalin projects will improve Sakhalin's international status but a substantially smaller proportion of female subjects (58 percent) have similar expectations. Almost 20 percent of women foresee no benefits, as compared with 9 percent of men who believe likewise. When it comes to expectations of negative international consequences for Sakhalin, almost 60 percent of women anticipate such effects, while 50 percent of men are similarly concerned. Thirty-three percent of men anticipate no negative consequences, in comparison with only 12 percent of women.

Table 24. Expectations of International Impact by Gender
  # of respondents International benefits Negative international impact
Gender   Yes No Yes No
Male
Female
52
57
41
33
5
11
26
34
17
7
Total* 109 74 16 60 24
* The totals do not match because some respondents did not answer either or both of the questions about the expected impact on themselves.

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