The Environmental Monitoring Task Force (EMTF) was established at the 4th WGWAP meeting (see terms of reference draft). Its objectives are:

  • to review the current state of Sakhalin Energy’s environmental monitoring program, with particular attention devoted to understanding ecological linkages important to western gray whale foraging habitat
  • and to provide advice and guidance with regard to future environmental monitoring

EMTF is chaired by Prof. Dr. Glenn R. VanBlaricom from the University of Washington. EMTF consists of several WGWAP panelists:

  • Dr. Randall Reeves, Dr. Brian Dicks, Dr. Grigory Tsidulko and Dr. David Weller, designated Sakhalin Energy (SEIC) representatives and selected experts if and as agreed by the Panel and SEIC.

Under the joint auspices of the OSTF (Oil Spill Task Force) and EMTF the following tasks have been completed or are in progress.

  • Review of Oil Spill Response Plans for SEICs offshore platforms, pipelines and the Prigorodnoye LNG Terminal in Aniva Bay in 2007 and 2009, accompanied by site visits to OSR equipment stockpiles. This is to be repeated in 2012, which will include site visits to the OSR equipment stockpiles at Nogliki, pipeline PMDs and the LNG Terminal.
  • Annual review of the results of SEIC’s environmental monitoring programmes. 
  • Review of SEIC’s environmental and oil spill response manuals including a recently prepared Ice Response Manual. 
  • Review of and attendance at oil spill exercises (desktop, office based and equipment deployments in the field). The most recent included attendance at a Tier 3 exercise at the Nogliki OPF and the SEIC control centre in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, followed by participation in an OSR workshop. SEIC’s oiled wildlife response facilities were also inspected and attendance is planned at a shoreline oil spill exercise to be held near the entrance to the Piltun Lagoon in July 2012.

A joint literature review related to Gray Whale feeding grounds, to be conducted by task force members and SEIC’s environmental monitoring scientists, is planned for 2012/2013.

1st EMTF Meeting (Geneva, Switzerland, 7-9 December 2011)

The meeting was co-chaired by Dr. VanBlaricom and Dr. Dicks. The design and the results of monitoring programmes related to the conservation of western gray whales were reviewed at the meeting. Oil spill issues, which had previously been under the aegis of a separate Oil Spill Task Force (OSTF), were for practical reasons combined into the first EMTF meeting agenda in view of the close relationship between many of the current oil and environmental monitoring issues. At the workshop oil spill risks associated with oil field infrastructure, sea ice, earthquakes and a potential new platform development (South Piltun) were reviewed, as were oil spill exercises and oil spill response plans. The status of environmental monitoring programmes was reviewed and consideration was given to the role of Piltun Lagoon, which is adjacent to an important near-shore whale feeding ground. The meeting identified concerns, some of which were subsequently turned by the Panel into recommendations for action at WGWAP 11.