Prevention of oil spills and ensuring readiness

Considerable attention is paid to the measures the company uses to ensure the integrity of pipelines as an important aspect of industrial and environmental safety.

In the meantime, in 2019, the volume of oil spills for Exploration and Production increased by 15 % compared to the previous year and amounted to 646 tonnes, while the last year’s figure was 741 tonnes.

These accomplishments are a consequence of the programs to improve the reliability of field pipelines in the Company's subsidiaries and affiliates of the Exploration and Production Business Line aimed at replacing the worn-out pipelines and protecting the pipelines from corrosion through inhibition.

Oil spills are mainly caused by pipe leaks under the influence of corrosion processes. Therefore, in 2019 the Company continued to reduce the number of failures and pipe leaks by timely and proper execution of measures to detect, reconstruct, replace, inhibit and clean pipelines that increased their integrity and reliability.

Since 2012, in close cooperation with law enforcement agencies, KazTransOil has reversed the situation with criminal and illegal taps into the Company's pipelines. As early as 2013 the Company managed to reduce the number of unauthorized taps from several dozens or even hundreds a year to 17 facts; following the results of 2014, 12 unauthorized taps were identified; in 2015, 14 taps were made; in 2016 - 3 unauthorized taps, in 2017 6 illegal taps were detected, in 2018 - 1 tap, in 2019 – 2 taps.

These indicators have been mainly achieved through the following actions:

  • enhanced control over the mobile groups via GPS systems and timely inspection of pipelines by such mobile groups;
  • protection of oil pipelines via the Optosense monitoring system.  

Continual preparedness for oil spill response (OSR) is our absolute priority.

The Caspian Sea is a unique natural site whose fragile ecosystem is particularly sensitive to oil pollution due to its isolation. We make high demands for environmental safety when conducting offshore oil operations: before starting any work we conduct background environmental studies on contract territories and evaluate our potential social and environmental impacts, as well as monitor impacts, emissions and emergencies - during and after operations.  

Before offshore drilling operations begin, we ensure constant preparedness to eliminate all possible emergency oil spills. At the end, we carry out a continuous environmental monitoring of abandoned wells. Monitoring of abandoned wells in the license areas includes monitoring of air quality, pollution of sea water and bottom sediments, biodiversity, as well as laboratory and analytical work and photo and video recording of the mouths of abandoned wells.

During offshore operations, we strictly adhere to the following principles:

  • Strict adherence to design decisions
  • The Zero Discharge principle - all waste and wastewater is transported ashore
  • Providing all swimming facilities with fish protection devices and no polluted water
  • A ban imposed on production operations during the spawning period - from April 1 to July 15
  • A ban on fishing at production vessels
  • A ban on well testing and combustion of hydrocarbon raw materials during the night
  • Compliance with a special mode of operation

The production facilities of the Group have Oil Spill Response Plans which have been put into action in due course.

Involving the concerned public in the process and analysis of tabletop exercises, integrated exercises and other EOSR drills

According to international practice, oil spills at sea almost inevitably pollute coastal area and shores. Coastal cleanup activities using special equipment may have destructive effects on susceptible ecosystems. Thus, it is nearly impossible to use special equipment in the coastal area of the Caspian Sea with its wetlands. This is observed annually during firefighting in Akzhaiyk Nature Reserve which is located in the North Caspian coastal area. According to representatives of emergency authorities “firefighting gets complicated as these are swampy lands, the equipment cannot get through and firefighting is hard”. That is why, cleanup of an oil-polluted coast always requires mostly hand methods and a lot of people, both professionals and volunteers.

Today, Kazakhstan volunteers take an active part in firefighting during emergencies. For example, according to mass media, firefighting of reeds in Akzhaiyk Nature Reserve involved special equipment and emergency officials as well as volunteer crews from Kenuzek rural district of Atyrau Oblast.

Volunteering inevitably gains more and more relevance in oil spill response with the growing risk of major oil spills in the context of intensifying exploration and production of oil in the Caspian Sea, growing volumes of transhipment and transportation of oil and oil products, construction and development of port infrastructure.

In well-developed foreign countries, 75–80% of responders involved in coastal oil cleanup are volunteer activists. The most active among the population are usually young people who have a pro-active attitude, especially students, who are already united by their educational institutions.

As evidenced by international practice, an unexpected feature of oil spills is that certain people are periodically willing to provide voluntary help during cleanup. Such volunteers usually come on the site, each with his expectations, demands and different levels of experience. Working with volunteers is a complex task to be addressed by oil spill management, especially in the light of the continuously growing need to pay proper attention to public opinion and mass media.

In view of how serious and important volunteering is for emergency oil spill response (EOSR), LLP KMG Systems&Services (KMG SS) initiated the development and implementation of the EOSR Volunteering Development Programme in Atyrau and Mangistau Oblasts (the Programme). The Programme includes all volunteering aspects such as legal aspects of volunteering in the Republic of Kazakhstan and other countries, how to involve volunteers, how to register and manage volunteers before and during EOSR, it also classifies volunteers and suitable tasks, rights and obligations of volunteers and basic personal safety for volunteers. The Programme reflects the tasks to be addressed before the spill (preparation) and tasks during the oil spill (operation).

The Programme was presented during the Year of Volunteer Forum (Volunteering Presentation for the Volunteering Forum).

Implementation of the Programme started in Q1 2020 to create a database of potential volunteers and train them in basic skills/knowledge to participate in operations associated with oil products.

More detailed information about Involving the concerned public in the process and analysis of tabletop exercises, integrated exercises and other EOSR drills.

EOSR, LLP KMG Systems&Services

Desktop exercises Satpayev 2017

Desktop exercises Zhambyl 2018

Any interested person can fill in a questionnaire on the Company website and take the training.

Offishore Oil spill prevention

Zhambyl Petroleum LLP started construction of the ZT-2 appraisal well. To provide services for the elimination of emergency oil spills (hereinafter - OSR), Zhambyl Petroleum LLP entered into an agreement with a consortium represented by KMG Systems & Services LLP, Kazmortransflot LLP and the Republican State Enterprise on the right of economic management “Professional paramilitary emergency rescue service". During the construction of the appraisal well, the OSR vessels are located in a 500-meter zone from the Caspian Explorer.

Zhambyl Petroleum LLP has conducted two Table Top Exercises (hereinafter “TTE”) of the level one and level two emergency oil spill response (hereinafter “EOSR”).

The first TTE was held on 09.07.2018 before starting the construction of the ZT-2 appraisal well in the Bautino port with the participation of the state industrial safety inspector of the Mangistau Region and the state ecology inspector of the Mangistau Region.

The second TTE was carried out on 03.08.2018 during the construction of the ZT-2 well on a submersible drilling rig with the participation of the state industrial safety inspector of the Atyrau Region as well as representatives of the Company. During the construction of the appraisal well, two EOSR ships were on duty around the clock. Practical exercises were successful. Interaction between the ships and the command post has been checked. The conducted exercises demonstrated successful preparation of ships, crews, EOSR specialists and equipment for emergencies in the event of a fire, emergency oil spills, the rescue of a man overboard.

KMG manages potential risks of negative impact on biodiversity in emergency situations and includes animal rescue measures in the Oil and Oil Product Spill Response Plans.