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Curonian Spit

Lithuania, Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2001*
  • Oil and gas
International Assistance: requests for the property until 2001
Requests approved: 2 (from 1998-2000)
Total amount approved : 65,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2001**

August 2001: joint UNESCO / ICOMOS mission 

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2001

At the request of the State Party, an ICOMOS/UNESCO (UNESCO Moscow Office) mission in August 2001 assessed the situation. The ICOMOS expert visited the Lithuanian part, while the UNESCO Moscow Office representative had discussions with the Russian side (including the Lithuanian Consulate and World Ocean Museum in Kaliningrad, Russian Federation). In principle both experts obtained similar information. Despite requests for information by the Lithuanian authorities and by the World Heritage Centre via the Russian Permanent Delegation no response has been received from Russia. The UNESCO Moscow Office received documentation on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project. The D-6 Krakovskaya oil deposit is located at a depth of 27 – 30m in the Baltic Sea shelf, 22km off the coast of the Curonian Spit. In 1985 the USSR established that the environmental aspects of the project were not safe and that the existing technology could not ensure a safe oil exploitation. In August 2000 the company Lukoil announced that work would commence. The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs repeatedly requested official information on the project from the Russian Federation. However no reply was received. During a boat visit of the area the mission noted that construction work is being carried out on the platform and that the construction will be completed by 2002. The Moscow Office was informed that Lukeoil announced that all licenses and permissions were obtained and that oil exploitation would start in 2003. According to the documents on the EIA, which was carried out by the Atlantic Research Institute of Fishery and Oceanography and the Baltic Institute of Hydrosphere Ecology (Kaliningrad, Russia), the D-6 project is called a “peaceful cooperation with nature” and recommendations for confining spills and eliminating consequences of unavoidable currents in stormy weather have been worked out. While the platform has no visual impact on the World Heritage site, ICOMOS considers the potential impact of an oil spill as immense. In case of accident, the wind and sea currents would drive the oil spill in the direction of the Baltic shores of Lithuania, the Spit and as far as Latvia. The recommendations of the ICOMOS mission are:

1.  An environmental impact assessment (EIA) should be carried out, by either a joint Russian-Lithuanian team of experts or by an independent international consultancy;

2.  The Russian company should allow Lithuanian experts access to the technical data relating to safety provisions;

3.  The two countries should collaborate in the preparation of a risk-preparedness programme. 

Summary of the interventions
This report was not discussed during the World Heritage Committee session.
Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2001

The Bureau may wish to adopt the following decision:

“The Bureau takes note of the information provided by the ICOMOS expert and the report on the mission of August 2001. It thanks the Lithuanian authorities for their efforts to ensure the protection of the Curonian Spit. In view of the urgent situation, the Bureau requests the State Party of the Russian Federation to submit a report before 1 February 2002 on the project concerning the Russian part of this transboundary site and on technical data relating to safety provisions, for examination by the Bureau at its twenty-sixth session in April 2002. Furthermore, the Bureau requests that the environmental impact assessment shall be carried out, without delay, jointly by a Lithuanian-Russian team of experts and that the outcome of this study shall be communicated to the Bureau, at its next session.”

Report year: 2001
Lithuania Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 2000
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (v)
Documents examined by the Committee
arrow_circle_right 25COM (2001)

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.