Kazakhstan: Environmentalists concerned about health hazards posed by Tengiz oil well operated by Tengizchevroil
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Author: Makhambet Khakimov, Kaspi Tabigaty
[Title and summary translation from Russian provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre] The consequences of the 1985 accident at well 37 in the Tengiz oil field were unprecedented. Burning oil and gas erupted from the earth’s depths leading to a spill of approximately 50 km in width. There was a huge negative environmental impact on the area within a radius of 400 km and the morbidity rate in the neighbouring Atyrau province of Kazakhstan increased to 50%. It took a year to extinguish the fire and the Well still remains dangerously explosive. It is feared that movements deep underground Tengiz may result in another large explosion 25-30 years after the original disaster that will endanger local people living in the Zhylyoisk region. Recommendations made by the USSR’s Ministry of Oil & Gas Industry in 1986 to prevent explosions were never implemented. At this stage, the condition of Well Tengiz-37 has been kept secret. TCO, Exxon Mobil, KazMunaiGaz, LukArco are all actively extracting oil and gas in Tengiz. However, they are more concerned about profit maximization than the prevention of another explosion. [also refers to Embaneft, Embamunai, TengizMunaiGaz, Chevron]
[The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Tengizchevroil to respond. Tengizchevroil's response is below.]
The safety of people and protection of the environment are the top priorities for Tengizchevroil (TCO) in managing Well 37 and all other wells at Tengiz. TCO holds title to Well 37. Since TCO took over operatorship of the Tengiz field in 1993, it has been monitoring Well 37 to ensure that the well remains within design limits and in a safe condition. TCO has the operational knowledge to safely conduct any work on Well 37. The Government of Kazakhstan…monitors and reviews our work to ensure that the well is within design limits and in a safe condition. In 2012, TCO discussed the status of Well 37 with government and community members. We have committed the resources necessary to assure that Well 37 remains in safe condition and will continue to work with the government and its regulatory agencies to that end.
Response by Tengizchevroil (joint venture Chevron, ExxonMobil, KazMunayGas, LukArco): Environmentalists say Tengiz oil well operated by Tengizchevroil poses serious health hazards.
- Related stories: Kazakhstan: Environmentalists concerned about health hazards posed by Tengiz oil well operated by Tengizchevroil
- This is a response from the following companies: Tengizchevroil (joint venture Chevron, ExxonMobil, KazMunayGas, LukArco)