What are we paying for?!
text: Aybat Zharikbaev , exclusively for Gazeta.kz
Let us be clear about it: you burn, you spill, you pollute - you pay. But many are actually unhappy about this simple formula.
Therefore the recent differentiated increase of penalties for pollution for the subsurface users of Mangistau region provoked a wave of protests.
Even today, when it is time to pay the bills, certain CEOs of oil & gas companies show indignation about this "insolence" of the environmentalists, at the same time looking somewhat distastefully at their "production costs" - such as oil spills, discharges into the atmosphere, pollution of the ground and waters by toxic waste.
And one can't stop wondering at it: the more they pollute, the more they are active in disproving the novelty. And they write, and they write to all familiar authorities: what if somebody will defend them…
Anyway, no matter what, they WILL have to pay. So, keep calm, gentlemen! It's all over.
For those who have not understood why, keep reading…
The "veto" for flaring the associated gas was hopelessly trying to make its way in the state authorities. That is the reason.
According to experts, one flared cubic metre of the associated gas in Mangistau destroys on the average one metre and half of the atmospheric oxygen. And given that Mangistau peninsula is quite far from being a luscious green location (it is actually bare steppe everywhere), the adequate regeneration of oxygen from carbon dioxide does not take place.
Moreover, even locals adapted to these conditions now feel the lack of air, not to mention newcomers.
If we consider the problem of the lack of oxygen from another side, we will discover that when a cubic metre of the associated gas is burnt, the same amount of carbonic acid is oozed, which advances the warming of the climate. Oil & gas producers do not pay anything for the "warming pollution", because there are no documents regulating such responsibility.
Unlike in the national legislation, in a number of civilised countries there is the special "carbonic fine" - 70 USD per 1 tonne of carbonic gas. There is nothing of the kind in Kazakhstan.
Otherwise, the treasury could receive four and a half billion (!) KZT for the discharges of 507 thousand tonnes of carbonic gas in 2005.
We should not forget about soot - another dangerous byproduct of the flaring. During its slow oxidation in the atmospheric air it is gradually turning into benzapilene, a "detonating mixture" - a carcinogen and a teratogenic No.1 at the same time. Its concentration in the region is five-six times over the norm!
The gas flaring is disastrous not only for the environment, it is also unprofitable. Let us calculate: depending on conditions of the gas flaring, we get only 2 KZT per 1 cm, while the most beneficial price of gas in the region is 4 KZT.
- Why don't we sell the associated gas or electric power obtained from it at a more expensive price? There is a high demand for it. We, environmentalists, are struggling to prevent the enterprises from the gas flaring in order to make them sell it and get paid for it. The increased payments are an economic lever, capable of intensifying the implementation of Programmes of associated gas utilisation by the oil & gas ventures, - Yklas Nogayev, regional environmentalist leader, head of Mangistau territorial environmental department explained.
Let us regard another aspect of oil production. Starting from the third quarter of the current year the payments for allocation of production waste were increased, because the currently used "Methods of defining the level of pollution" as of 1994, is morally outdated and does not correspond with modern demands. Moreover, the volume of the environmental payments does not correspond with the damage done to the environment.
If we take but one example, of which there are too many: according to the monitoring, the ground waters near only one earth storage for oil are at a critical level of pollution. The phenol content exceeds the norm by more than one hundred fifty times, the cobalt content - by more than two hundred, the iron and nitrites - by thirty times.
The abovementioned Methods do not provide any mechanism for determining the size of damage for the pollution of waters.
A reasonable question arises: who will pay for it?
Let us check the law of RK "On environment protection", the Clause 10 of which authorises regional authorities to revise environmental fees on the annual basis, depending on the environmental situation; the top level of the payments has not been abolished. It seems to be a reason why local deputies approved the fees increased by environmentalists, without seeing any contradictions with the law in them.
And the fees have grown enough for trying to resolve urgent environmental problems of the region. Thus, in 2005 the total environmental payments amounted to 752 million KZT, of which 192 million KZT are above the norm.
As long as a part of the collected funds is transferred to the national budget, only 560 million KZT remain in the region for resolving the environmental problems, while a triple amount - around 1.5 billion - is actually needed.
Moreover, Russian scientists believe that to stabilize the environmental situation it is necessary to take into account the GNP, spending 2 - 4 per cent of it. And there are no reasons not to believe their opinion. Therefore, after simple calculations, to reach the abovementioned goal, Mangistau region has to increase the fees.
Moreover, Kazakhstan in its ambition to enter the world's 50 most competitive states has not only to stabilise the environmental situation, it also has to cardinally change the state of affairs in this area. And to achieve this the salaries should not exceed 4 per cent of the GNP.
- I would like to stress that more than a half of the diseases were provoked by the bad local environmental situation. We, environmentalists, despite everything, should not let it go. The destiny of the humanity in some way depends on us, - the chief environmentalist summed up.
Also in the "In Depth"
09.01.2013 2012 marked by multiple events in Kazakhstan