Globalization of Sakhalin's Oil Industry

Partnership or Conflict? A Reflection on the Etnologicheskaia Ekspertiza

in Sibirica
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  • 1 Sakhalin Regional Museum
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For the indigenous peoples of northern Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, Sovietization and industrial development—including onshore oil and gas development from the 1920s have resulted in the loss of language, ethnic homogeneity, and the lands where they practice traditional livelihood activities. Multinational offshore oil and gas projects commenced in the late 1990s. Sakhalin's indigenous people initially sought partnerships with the multinationals, but turned to protest in 2005, demanding among other things that companies complete an etnologicheskaia ekspertiza (anthropological expert review or ethno-cultural impact assessment). This is a relatively new Russian term and no methodological guidelines currently exist in Russian law. One of the offshore projects, the Sakhalin-2 Project, completed an international-style social impact assessment in 2003. The author compares this assessment and the World Bank social safeguard standards adopted by the Sakhalin-2 Project with the etnologicheskaia ekspertiza, arguing for the integration of Western and Russian approaches, in order to establish a sound scientific and legal basis for the assessment of socio-economic and cultural impacts of industrial projects on local communities.