Notes on Seminar 1: ‘Sustainable Community Development, Social Impact Assessment and Anthropological Expert Review’ (26 November 2004, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge) and Seminar 2: ‘A Sustainable Future for Sakhalin Island?’ (9 March 2005, Leicester University)
Trans-sectoral partnerships, sustainability research and the oil and gas industry in Russia
Multinational oil exploitation and the survival of reindeer herding in north-eastern Sakhalin, the Russian Far East
Sakhalin's multinational offshore oil and gas projects signify hope for the region's economic regeneration. They also pose an environmental threat to the livelihoods of local natural resource-users, including Sakhalin's few remaining reindeer herders. For the herders over the past century, industrial development, particularly in relation to the domestic onshore oil and gas industry, has been associated with environmental degradation and loss of pastures, family cohesion, language and culture. The herders contrast the physical and mental freedom they enjoy living on the land to the constraint of village life. Their survival strategies are based on a certain freedom from authority and the formal law. Their desire for freedom is also manifested in a reluctance to engage with outsiders who could have a significant influence on their future. This paper explores the survival strategies of reindeer herding households and enterprises and the ways that they engage with outsiders such as state officials, NGOs and oil companies. The offshore oil and gas projects could result in further loss of important pastures and pollution of water sources, while project benefits may not reach some of Sakhalin's communities that are more isolated. However, the projects have catalysed global interest in the fate of Sakhalin's native peoples, oil company consultations have enabled herders to voice their concerns about the projects, and oil company-sponsored programmes may provide opportunities for the revival of herding and the reinforcement of native identity. This article considers some of the tensions between economic independence and security, between the democratic right to participate in planning processes and the desire to be free from state regulation, authority and outside intervention.
An Exploration of Relations between Oil and Gas Companies, Communities, and the State
Florian Stammler and Emma Wilson
This introduction provides an overview of academic research and current practice relating to stakeholder dialogue around oil and gas development in the Russian North, Siberia and the Russian Far East. We discuss the two main strands of analysis in this special issue: (a) regulation and impact assessment; and (b) relationship-building in practice, with a particular focus on indigenous communities. We argue that an effective regulatory framework, meaningful dialogue, and imaginative organization of stakeholder relations are required to minimize negative impacts and maximize benefits from oil and gas projects. Self-interest, mistrust, and a lack of collective agency frequently lead to ineffective planning and heightened tensions in relations. We identify lessons to be learned from partnerships and initiatives already established in Sakhalin and Western Siberia, despite the lack of a stable legal framework to govern relations. This issue focuses on the academic-practitioner interface, emphasizing the importance of practical application of academic research and the value of non-academic contributions to academic debates.