Oil Companies' Relations with Reindeer Herders and Hunters in Noglikskii District, Northeastern Sakhalin Island

in Sibirica

By a twist of fate, Noglikskii District in northeastern Sakhalin Island, the Russian Far East, has ended up at the epicenter of huge multinational offshore oil and gas developments. The two most advanced of these are the projects Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2, whose operators are Exxon Neftegaz Ltd. (ExxonMobil) and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd. or Sakhalin Energy (Shell) respectively. Sakhalin-2 started production in 1999, while Sakhalin-1 started production in 2005. Further projects to develop the oil and gas reserves of Sakhalin’s northern shelf are still in the exploratory phase. Another major oil company—British Petroleum (BP)—is planning to take part in Sakhalin-5, togetherwith its Russian partner Rosneft’. The Sakhalin-5 Project is focused more on Noglikskii District’s northern neighbor, Okhinskii District. As expected, Northern Sakhalin is experiencing significant consequences from these projects: ecological, social, and also cultural, as indigenous peoples still practice their traditional livelihood activities in northern Sakhalin. This article explores the local changes wrought by the Sakhalin offshore oil and gas projects in Noglikskii District. After providing a background to Noglikskii District, its people, history, and natural environment, the article focuses specifically on the relationship between the oil and gas extraction activities of the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 projects and the reindeer husbandry and hunting activities of the local populations. The article describes efforts by the companies to mitigate negative project impacts and to promote development opportunities. Company-community and company-contractor relations are also discussed.