Until the end of 2014, the Arctic Council (AC) will finalize the agreement on Arctic marine pollution Prevention. This was stated according to Voice of Russia on Friday by Ivan Panichkin, Deputy Head of International Treaties department of the Russian Ministry of Energy in an interview with ITAR-TASS. He was the head of the Russian delegation during the third round of consultations of the AU group on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by oil in the Arctic, which was held in Ottawa from 11 to 13 June.
“Our task was to prepare for the ministerial meeting of the AU, which will take place in 2015 in Canada, the document for the Prevention of Marine Pollution in the Arctic,” said Panichkin. He noted that this is the third step of the AU in regard of the protection of the Arctic marine environment. In 2011 an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the field of aviation and maritime rescue in the Arctic was signed, and in 2013 – Agreement on preparedness and response to marine pollution in the region.
“Now we are working on a more complex document, which addresses the subject of preventing oil spills. It is about using the most modern technology and equipment, as well as the application of different standards. This is quite a sensitive area for all countries, so all participants of the AU are very cautious with the current document,” Panichkin said.
“At the moment there is no agreement about the form in which the document will be presented at the ministerial meeting in 2015. This issue will be finally resolved at the next meeting of the group in September 2014 in Nuuk, Greenland, where it will become clear whether it is going to be an international treaty or a legally binding document,” said the head of the Russian delegation.
He added that Russia would insist on the adoption of a legally binding instrument. “Russia is the first country that started oil production in the ice-covered regions of the Arctic. We are pioneers and leaders in this area and no other country has such projects yet,” said Panichkin. The representative of the Ministry of Energy said that the Russian company “Gazprom” is already working in the “Prirazlomnoe” field in the southern part of the Barents Sea, and “Rosneft” is actively preparing to enter the shelf together with American, Norwegian and Italian companies – Exxon Mobil Corporation, Statoil ASA and Eni SpA.
“Russia is also the only country in the world, possessing nuclear ice breakers, which allows us to go to the Arctic Ocean. Currently, the freight traffic has been increasing along the Northern Sea Route; Russia is actively developing this area, which will provide the possibility of reducing the period of delivery of goods from Europe to Asia. Such activity is, of course, a threat to the Arctic environment, oil spills are a major threat, both from the ships and from oil platforms,” continued Panichkin. “Therefore it is very important to prevent spills. Thus, the task of the AU group is to find a mutually acceptable forms of cooperation of the Arctic states, which will work together to solve this problem”.
AC consists of Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Canada, the USA, Finland and Sweden.