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Whales versus Oil Production
September 25, 2007 20:52

Grey whale

Russian engineering and technology company “ScanEx” has launched a project on space monitoring of seawaters near the Sakhalin Island, where oil is produced and grey whales unfortunately dwell, being an endangered species. Main goal of said project is keeping an eye on ecological problems of the oil-and-gas bearing region, which at the same time hosts a population of endangered grey whales.

The programme has been initiated by the WWF Russia, which was entitled by the engineering and technology centre “ScanEx” to use its developments: facilities for receiving and processing information obtained from space. Expected results of space monitoring – space radar images and results of their deciphering will be shown almost online on the programme’s website open for the public, for any one, who is concerned about whales’ further destiny.


Russian organizations, which are interested in maintaining stable ecology of our country, are worried about possible negative effect on the local environment and grey whale population which can be caused by constructing oil platform “Piltun-Astokhskaya-B” on the north-eastern part of the Sakhalin Island’s continental shelf. Western population of grey whales is now in critical state and currently consists as little as of 100 animals, only 20-25 of which are female whales, able to deliver baby whales.

“Piltun-Astokhskaya-B” oil platform is located in immediate proximity to the feeding area of grey whale population, which is extremely susceptible to noise exposure, accompanying any engineering, boring and seismic works, and to water environment pollution, including oil spills. Whales often die in collisions with ships.


In summer 2007 fourth expedition of WWF-Russian has started its mission on the Sakhalin Island, having as the main aim to discover early stages of possible negative impact of constructing oil platform “Piltun-Astokhskaya-B” on grey whales and keeping state authorities and various companies updated with information on this point.

The programme of space monitoring, which was developed in the engineering and technology company “ScanEx”, is aimed at supporting efforts of WWF-Russia on maintaining safety of giant mammals. Scientists plan regular radar survey of the Sea of Okhotsk waters by means of RADARSAT-1 and ENVISAT-1 satellites for detecting possible oil spills and monitoring movements of ships aroung the “Piltun-Astokhskaya-B” oil platform. According to regulations of the “Action plan on protecting marine mammals” ships are not allowed to leave work area with radius of 2 kilometers near the “Piltun-Astokhskaya-B” oil platform and of 5 kilometers near the “Piltun-Astokhskaya-A” oil platform (“Molikpaq”).

Results of processing of satellite images are shown at the website as geoinformational products (radar images and maps), created according technique, developed together with Shirshov Institute of Oceanology (Russian Academy of Sciences).

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists Russian nature Russian oil Sakhalin Russian Academy of Sciences 

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