In view of the impending initiation of oil production in 2008, the Panel agreed that it should engage in a comprehensive evaluation of the oil spill issue. The evaluation will consider whether the oil spill prevention and response measures planned by Sakhalin Energy meet general international industry standards. It will especially assess whether these measures are sufficient to protect the particularly vulnerable western gray whale population and its habitat. 

To undertake this evaluation, the Panel agreed to establish a task force (see Terms of Reference) and supplement its existing skill set with an oil spill expert.

To review the current state of Sakhalin Energy’s oil spill prevention and response planning and capabilities, the task force have undertaken the following activities to date:

1. Task Force members have independently reviewed the following documents provided by Sakhalin Energy:

  • Corporate Oil Spill Response Plan,
  • Lunskoye Oil Spill Response Plan,
  • Piltun – Astokh Oil Spill Response Plan,
  • Prigorodnoye Offshore Oil Spill Response Plan,
  • A report on Sakhalin II oil characteristics,
  • An analysis of the fates of spilled oil, including weathering, emulsification, and dispersibility,
  • A report or reports providing environmental sensitivity maps (e.g., Piltun feeding area and lagoon) pertaining to western gray whales and associated biota or habitats (notably benthic communities), and
  • A report describing ice conditions and ice movement.

2. Following this preliminary review of Sakhalin Energy’s Oil Spill Response planning documents, two members of the Panel (Reeves and Dicks) and a representative of IUCN (Roberts) visited Sakhalin Island with the aim of reviewing on-site oil spill preparedness and response with SEIC’s staff. The group was joined by a further Panel member (Tsidulko) on 1st and 2nd August 2007. Equipment stockpiles in Yuzhno, at the gas and oil export terminal in Aniva Bay and at Nogliki, the transit base for SEIC’s offshore operations in the north-eastern sector of the island, were visited. Discussions were held with operational/response staff of SEIC and Ecoshelf, the contractor appointed to store, maintain and operate the spill response resources. The oil exploration and production area was also visited and shorelines and lagoons likely to be affected by spills were observed directly.

3. The full Task Force met for additional review and discussion between 6-8 November 2007 in Lausanne Switzerland (WGWAP 3). See Oil Spill Task Force Meeting Agenda

4. The Oil Spill Task Force completed their report in Febuary 2008. (see final Oil Spill Task Force Report)