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Curonian Spit

Lithuania, Russian Federation
Factors affecting the property in 2002*
  • Oil and gas
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports

Oil exploitation project

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2002
Requests approved: 3 (from 1998-2002)
Total amount approved : 85,000 USD
Missions to the property until 2002**

August 2001: joint UNESCO / ICOMOS mission 

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 2002

Previous deliberations:
25th extraordinary session of the Bureau (Chapter III.179-181)
25th session of the Committee (Chapter VIII. 165-167)

Main issues: The impact on the site of a proposed oil extraction operation by a Russian enterprise in the Baltic Sea, from a platform at a point 22km distant from the coast of the Spit.

New information:  A report on the status of the project was received from the Permanent Delegation of the Russian Federation on 1 February 2002. The report states that the Russian Federation Natural Resource Ministry has not yet received the project documentation related to the development and exploitation of the oil field. As soon as these are received, the Ministry will carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment. Furthermore, the report clarifies that:

  • exploration and development of the oil field was started long before the Federal Law was approved and the Curonian Spit was inscribed on the World Heritage List;
  • at present no oil is produced and the oil field does not have a negative impact on the natural heritage of the site;
  • the buffer zone of the Russian part of the Curonian Spit includes waterways of the Baltic Sea and Curonian bay with a width of 1km from the coast line, while the oil rig is situated at a distance of 22km from the coast. Due to this fact the Russian Federation can develop industrial production in the vicinity of the site provided that the national environmental protections laws are observed;
  • in the framework of the Russian-Lithuanian Joint Committee acting under the Agreement about cooperation in the field of environmental protection, signed by the two Governments in June 1999, the Lithuanian party may wish to participate in the development of appropriate environmental protection measures to avert the possible impact of the oil production on the natural environment (should the decision to start oil extraction be taken).

The official position of the Russian Federation on this issue was communicated to the Lithuanian authorities by diplomatic channels in August 2001.

Action Required

The Bureau takes note of the report provided by the Russian authorities and requests the State Party of Russia to urgently carry out the EIA in co-operation with the Lithuanian authorities. Furthermore, it suggests that the Russian and Lithuanian authorities should co-operate closely to develop environmental protection measures as a matter of urgency, should oil extraction commence. It requests the State Party of Russia to provide a detailed report on the results of the EIA as well as on progress made in the development of the environmental protection measures.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2002
26 COM 21B.57
Curonian Spit (Lithuania/Russian Federation)
The World Heritage Committee,

1. Takes note of the information provided concerning the serious environmental risks of this project;

2. Urges the State Party of the Russian Federation to provide by 1 October 2002 a report on the oil exploration project and to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment in collaboration with Lithuanian experts;

3. Requests the two States Parties to cooperate closely to develop effective environmental protection measures; 

4. Encourages furthermore the two States Parties to collaborate in undertaking comprehensive risk assessments and develop emergency contingency plans taking into account a range of risk scenarios and to provide a report on the situation by 1 February 2003 for examination at its 27th session in June/July 2003.
26 BUR XII.103-105
The Curonian Spit (Lithuania/Russian Federation)

XII.103 The report provided by the Russian Federation on the status of the proposed oil extraction operation by a Russian enterprise in the Baltic Sea stated that the project documentation relating to the development and exploitation of the oil-field had not yet been received by the Russian Federation Natural Resource Ministry. Furthermore, the report stated that at present no oil was being produced and the oil-field did not have a negative impact on the heritage values of the site. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) had not been carried out. It further stated that the buffer zone of the Russian part of the Curonian Spit includes shipping routes of the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Bay at a distance of 1 km from the coastline, while the oil rig is situated 22 km from the coast. Within the framework of the Russian-Lithuanian Joint Committee, acting under the Agreement of co-operation in the field of environmental protection, signed by the two Governments in June 1999, Lithuania may participate in the development of appropriate environmental protection measures to mitigate the possible impact of the oil production on the natural environment, should the decision to start oil extraction be taken.

XII.104 ICOMOS informed the Bureau that the project, although located 22 km from the site, can be made out from a high point of the Spit. During the ICOMOS-IUCN evaluation mission no mention was made in the documentation of this oil extraction project. ICOMOS pointed out that the potential impact on the site could be catastrophic, and that the strong tides could cause a "black tide" to threaten in particular the Lithuanian part of the Spit. ICOMOS emphasized that effective and extensive measures should be put in place which could come into effect in case of an accident, and that the EIA and protective measures should be carried out jointly by the Lithuanian and Russian authorities.

XII.105 The Bureau took note of the report provided by the Russian authorities and requested the State Party of the Russian Federation to urgently carry out the EIA in collaboration with the Lithuanian authorities. Furthermore, it requested the Russian and Lithuanian authorities to co-operate closely to develop effective and extensive environmental protection measures as a matter of urgency, should oil extraction commence. It requested the State Party of Russian Federation to provide a detailed report on the results of the EIA as well as on progress made in the development of the environmental protection measures by 1 October 2002.

The Committee is requested to note the decision by the Bureau (please refer to document WHC-02/CONF.202/2 - paragraphs XII. 103-105).

 

Report year: 2002
Lithuania Russian Federation
Date of Inscription: 2000
Category: Cultural
Criteria: (v)
Exports

* : 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.


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