Transneft vs Amur Leopard

Press release - 8 November, 2005
At the independent press center WWF Russia, Greenpeace and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) presented a report “East Siberia – Pacific Ocean Oil Pipeline: Economic and Environmental Impact and Risks of an Oil Terminal in Southern Primorsky Krai”, which once again proved that the final destination of the pipeline should be changed.

Amur Leopard

The report addresses the project of Transneft, Russia's state-owned oil pipeline monopoly that plans to build the world's longest pipeline (4.188 kilometers) to transport oil from western and central Siberian oilfields to the Sea of Japan. The pipeline will be the Russia's largest federal project to date with total investments estimated at between 11 and 17 billion USD.

At his meeting with Igor Chestin, Director of WWF Russia, on November 4, 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized the importance of the East Siberia - Pacific Ocean oil pipeline for the country. However he declared that he is not opposed to the selection of a different terminal location. This decision should be made by experts, said President. Experts, including specialists from the Russian Academy of Sciences, expressed their opinion – the oil pipeline must run as far as possible from the coast of Baikal and the terminal must be located in one of the bays to the north.

According to Director of Conservation Policy of WWF Russia, Dr. Evgeny Shvarts, the Perevoznaya Bay is the worst possible choice for the terminal from the perspective of environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of marine biological resources. The comparative analysis also indicates there are alternative locations for the oil terminal besides Perevoznaya.

The risk of a major oil spill is much higher in the Amur Bay compared to alternative terminal sites. In addition, an oil spill in the Amur Bay will be very difficult to control and such oil spills are likely to spread over a large area and to pollute long stretches of the coastline.

Fifteen percent of Russia’s endangered species can be found only in this part of Russia. One of the endangered animals found only in Southwest Primorsky Krai is the Amur leopard, probably the world's rarest big cat with a population of about 30 individuals. The pipeline would run through a wildlife refuge Barsovy and the proposed terminal site is located very close to Kedrovaya Pad, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and important leopard habitat. The most popular tourist resorts and sandy beaches in the Russian Far East - visited by tens of thousands of tourists annually - and Russia's only marine reserve are also located nearby. Vladivostok, the region's largest city, is opposite the terminal site on the Amur Bay.

"Unfortunately Trasneft is unlikely to listen to the common sense. Enjoying the patronage of top authorities, the company ignores any demands and arguments. As a result we can face a situation that will be a disgrace for Russia. The recent UNESCO mission proved inadmissibility of the oil pipeline near Baikal. If the planned terminal location is not changed, they will officially recommend the World Heritage Committee to inscribe Lake Baikal in the World Heritage in Danger list. In future, if the Russian government fails to take measures to protect the lake, Baikal can be excluded from the List. There haven't been such precedents before. The situation can be improved by the wide public protest. Every patriot must speak in defense of Baikal and Primorie, said Mikhail Kreindlin, Greenpeace Russia forest expert.

Additional information

On 1 July 2005, a court in Khabarovsk, Russia, ruled the official Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project invalid as a result of serious irregularities and violations of Russian law. Irregularities include the following: withholding of essential project information, failure to investigate alternative terminal sites, providing of incorrect information to the public, use of inaccurate information in the project assessment (including inaccurate data on the suitability of the proposed terminal site) and obstruction of independent NGO participation in the EIA process. According to the court ruling, EIA of such a big project must be approved by Rosprirodnadzor, and EIA of the objects that cause impact on natural resources (flora and fauna, water, land resources, vegetation, etc.) must be carried out by the Federal Service for Nature Management Supervision.

President Putin recently criticized Russian environmentalists for creating obstacles for Russia's economic development. He accused NGOs of accepting finance from "competitors," citing the Siberia-Pacific Pipeline Project as his main example. However, NGOs argue for a changed pipeline route, not for cancellation of the entire pipeline project. The present controversy concerning the proposed terminal site is the result of poor planning by Transneft and Russian authorities, such as not selecting the site on the basis of objective scientific data. Contrary to statements by certain Russian officials, NGOs opposed to the proposed terminal site have not received any support from "competitors" (such as the companies that own oil terminals near Nakhodka).

A total of 17 public hearings were organized in August along the pipeline route. On 15 August 2005, public hearings were held in Vladivostok and in Khasan, the district where Transneft wants to build the terminal. The vast majority of the participants in Vladivostok opposed the plan to build at Perevoznaya. In Khasan, not a single participant spoke out in favor of the plan. In spite of this, opposition to a terminal at Perevoznaya is not mentioned in the protocol summarizing the hearing results. The protocol states that the hearing participants approved of the project.

At a conference in Vladivostok on 18 September 2005 three Russian ministers spoke out against the plan to build the terminal at Perevoznaya. Yury Trutnev (Ministry of Natural Resources), Igor Levitin (Ministry of Transport) and German Gref (Ministry of Economic Development and Trade) stated that Nakhodka is a more suitable terminal location because it is a developed industrial area. However, Transneft declared it still plans to build at Perevoznaya, claiming the statements by the ministers are not an official government decision.

For further information please contact:

Ilya Mitasov, Information Service of WWF Russia: +7 095 727 0939, e-mail:

Evgeny Usov, press officer, Greenpeace Russia: +7 095 257 41 18/22, e-mail: