Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gazprom's Shameful Corporate Irresponsibility

It should come as no surprise that one of the most shameful corporations in the world hails from and is owned largely by Vladimir Putin's Russia. With net profits of $83 billion in 2012, Gazprom is currently the world's largest gas company.

Gazprom is also a media giant that uses its media holdings to misinform and influence public opinion. This includes depicting Greenpeace’s peaceful actions to protect the environment as foreign "eco-terrorism."

Gazprom is responsible for a number of eco-crimes including sizable oil spills. With satellite images and field visits, Greenpeace Russia’s specialists have identified 206 oil spills across 6 oil fields where Gazprom conducts drilling operations.

Gazprom has also been involved in an offshore drilling disaster that killed 53 people in December 2011, when the Kolskaya jack-up rig capsized during towing.

Perhaps most alarmingly, Gazprom is the first company to drill for oil in the ecologically fragile Arctic Barents Sea. In December 2013 Gazprom began extracting oil from a drilling platform, called Prirazlomnaya, located in the Pechora Sea.

Many have pointed out the dangers of drilling in this remote location. According to one study the damage from an oil spill would be "irreparable" (see graphic above). Gazprom could not hope to respond to an oil spill in Arctic waters and this would cause long term pollution problems that would imperil the habitats of local wildlife including Arctic seabirds and walrus.

The presence of Russian oil drilling operations has already led to the virtual eradication of reindeer in some places.

"We had about 800 reindeer five years ago. Now just 80 to 100 are left. They are mainly shot down by oil industry workers. I think that there is no future. If the oil companies would leave us, we can manage to save something here, to recover this place. But while oil workers are still here there is no future for us."

− Vladimir Vello, a deer farmer from the Purovsky district

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