"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

The Environmental Effects of Development
in the Angaro-Yenisei Region

Hiromitsu Kitagawa

The exploitation and development of energy resources in the Barents Sea has stimulated the development of central Siberia's society, economy, industry, as well as transport systems for the transfer of resources to markets. The Angaro-Yenisei region, which covers the Yenisei River basin and partially that of the Ob River's tributaries, together with rivers flowing into the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea, is blessed with vast natural resources. The region, however, has economic development problems. Due to the region's fragile environmental conditions, development should be encouraged in harmony with the environment and the traditional life of the region's indigenous peoples. The region's situation is similar to the Russian Far East with respect to environmental and economic issues.
Current and future projects for the Russian North's development and their effects on the region's environment and indigenous peoples will be briefly discussed.
Oil production has decreased substantially due to a drop in production efficiency. Recovery of production in the energy sector is undoubtedly the key for revival of the Russian economy with respect to fiscal revenue, earning foreign currencies, stimulating other industries, and improving local infrastructure and living standards. Preferential credit is now being extended for converting military industries to promote the efficient use of energy in wider energy markets. The European Energy Accord, which aims to attract investment from foreign capital, was established to invite international bids for licenses, with which foreign investors are able to participate in the Russian oil industry.
The transfer or transition of a formerly planned economy into a market economy in Russia has turned out more difficult than previously expected. Russia has been facing serious problems such as reduced production and stagnant investment, mostly because Russia has had little experience in market activities. Particularly in central Siberia and the Russian Far East as well (Miller & Karp, 1994), social and industrial activities in the regions have remained at extremely low levels since the late 1980s. It is therefore difficult to make reliable predictions about the development of central Siberia or to carry out effective proposals. Reliable data available for statistical analyses, particularly in Japan, are less than satisfactory. For the moment, quantity should now come before quality.
Fortunately the International Northern Sea Route Programme, INSROP, has been carried out in cooperation with Russia, Japan and Norway, for six years since 1993 (Ostreng, 1999). The aim has been to address the main navigational features of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) or North-East Passage (Raurala, 1992) and assess the possibilities of using the route as a prospective commercial seaway for international use. Through this programme, various technical, social, environmental and political issues have been reviewed. Some of the issues examined include: an assessment of the cargo generating potential of central Siberia, the NSR's environmental effects, effects on indigenous peoples' societies, related political and legal ramifications, etc. The author is deeply indebted to the INSROP Working Papers, reviewed and written mainly by Russian experts.