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The Samotlor Lake
August 12, 2014 15:24


The Samotlor Lake located in the eastern part of Khanty and Mansi Autonomous District, 24 km from Nizhnevartovsk, is not the biggest, and certainly not the most beautiful one among Russian lakes. But it played a big part in the history of the country, the importance of this role can hardly be overestimated. Russia’s largest oil field is located near Samotlor.

Without this oil the life of the city of Nizhnevartovsk would have been different. Even the whole country that got used to the title of the oil power would have lived in a different way.

The pipeline Samotlor-Almetyevsk, which was the longest one at that time in the Soviet Union, opened in 1972. The Western Siberian oil flowed through it to the pipeline system “Druzhba”. The world was experiencing an energy crisis at that time, raw material prices grew considerably, and the black gold from the Soviet Union determined the economic role of Russia for several decades.

Today Samotlor does not look like a normal lake at all. No forests remained around it after the half of a century of continuous development – only a real swamp, dumpings, drill rigs and pumps. The water space is crossed by dams, causeways and “bushes” (platforms for drill rigs), which divide Samotlor into several independent reservoirs and hundreds of smaller ponds.

When you go through Samotlor roads and ask about different objects - the answers sound the way you would probably hear in the possessions of a fairy-tale character, only it is now called TNK-BP. This company owns some local fields today. If you look from above, the shape of Samotlor with all its facilities and roads resembles a human heart, those dumpings being its vessels.

Their clear lines look as if someone drew geometric shapes on the surface of the lake with a huge pencil. This “heart” can hardly be considered healthy: it has been drilled, blasted, pumped for 50 years, people distilled oil here and burned natural gas coming out alongside with oil. All this continues today, although production volumes have significantly decreased since the Soviet era, when Samotlor produced a third of all oil of the Union.

The billionth ton of Nizhnevartovsk oil was produced in 1980, and in 2010 the experts in Yugra estimated that 10 billion tons of black gold have been pumped in the region over the half of a century. It is clear why the environmentalists look desperate at the mere mention of Samotlor. 

Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Samotlor Lake Siberia    

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