Central European University
Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy
Academic year 2003/2004
Environmental Assessment & Management
Professor A. Cherp
Evaluation of the Quality of the Draft EIS of
the Sakhalin II Energy Project
VOLUME II: Platforms, Offshore Pipelines and Landfalls
Budapest - 2004
List of contents
I. Existing Environment (Chapter 1) (Oana Boingeanu)…………………………………………..4
II. Existing Environment (Chapter 1) (Iordan Hristov)……………………………………………8
III. Project Description: Offshore Field Development (Chapter 2) (Anastasiya Timoshyna)..…11
IV. Project Description: Offshore Field Development (Chapter 2) (zita szecsenyi-nagy)……….15
V. Impacts Assessment, Mitigation and Monitoring (Chapter 3) (Svetoslav apostolov)………19
VI. Impacts Assessment, Mitigation and Monitoring (Chapter 3) (Milena novakova)…………..23
Annex 1 Collation sheet of the quality assessment
As the part of the Environmental Assessment and Management Stream assignment our group focused on a specific part of the draft EIS of the Sakhalin 2 Energy Project: Platforms, Offshore Pipelines and Landfalls (Volume 2 of EIA).
The quality of the EIS was assessed using the instructions in Part B of the OP 55 members of group reviewed the quality of the BTC Project EIS (Lee et all. 1999) guidance as well as other literature sources available. The team divided the chapters to be analyzed and met several times to discuss the progress. Everyone reported on the progress and based on the final discussions the individual evaluation agreed on common mark for the relevant review area and all relevant review categories, with a general understanding of the other chapters of EIA, relevant for the task. Emphasis during the evaluation process has been done on the question raised up during the December 18 Briefing held by the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company (US DoT 2003)
The Lee-Colley Environmental Statement Review Package is one of the methods developed for evaluating an EIS. In the basis of an evaluation there is the hierarchical structure of an assessment, which allows to come from the simplest and smallest details of an EIS to the more complex and broad. The Volume, to give the best possible evaluation, has been divided between 6 members of the group, each performing individual tasks and coming up with own conclusions and recommendations that can be found in the respective parts of the paper. Next chapters with given tasks were divided between the next students.
- Oana Boingeanu assessed the physical conditions in the area that may be affected during the project development;
- Iordan Hristov evaluated the described baseline conditions of the existing living environment around the Sakhalin project area, focusing on three main questions: the comprehensiveness of the description of each element of the environment; relationship of that particular element with the others; data explaining what will happen in the ecosystem if an accident occurs;
- Anastasiya Timoshyna focused on the platform development description: details of the construction phase, operational activities, possible wastes and emissions produced during the whole cycle of platform existence. Comments considering the Communication of results are also provided in the chapter;
- Zita Szecsenyi-Nagy provided the assessment of the Subsea infrastructure development, concentrating on the impact of gas and oil offshore pipelines. The other field of assessment was the alternatives of the specific details of project implementation, including the site, technological process to be implemented, production specification;
- Svetoslav Apostolov evaluated the significance of potential impacts associated with project implementation specifically associated with the offshore platforms and pipelines, temporary infrastructure and associated activities. Specific focus is given to the impacts on seabed sediments/hydrodynamics, water quality, benthic habitats, plants and animals, fish and shellfish, seabirds, sea mammals, fishing activity and navigation, ambient air quality, and landscape and visual resources;
- Milena Novakova evaluated the impact and mitigation measures towards the next elements of the environment and types of activities: fishing activities and hunting, shipping and navigation, air quality, landscape and visual resources. Also an abandonment and decommissioning, emergency events, cumulative impacts, transboundary impacts, monitoring and management are evaluated.
Results of the assessment are to be found in the conclusions and the body text of the respective parts of paper, partially in the general conclusion of the evaluation and the Collation sheet, presented in the Appendix 1. Collation Sheet contains the aggregated grades that were obtained after the discussion process between the members of the group. This evaluation argues that the draft EIS should not be accepted.
I. Existing Environment (Chapter 1) (Oana Boingeanu)
The quality of the EIA was assessed mainly using the Lee-Colley package (Lee et all. 1999) guidance. The team divided the chapters to be analyzed and met several times to discuss the progress. Everyone reported on the progress and based on the final discussions the individual assessment is done for the chapter analyzed and the relevant review topics, with a general understanding of the other chapters of EIA, relevant for the task.
As we were in charge of only a small part of the complex EIA we became aware of the inconvenient of not being very familiar with the whole complex process analyzed. This is just a specific of this context otherwise it should not be an obstacle in the quality assessment. Questions that were specifically raised under this chapter might be answered in some other parts of the EIA, and this would improve the quality of the EIS, but it would have been appropriate to be found in this part in order to increase to make the process more efficient.
2. Quality assessment
Chapter 1 –Existing Environment describes the study area and the current environmental conditions, which might be affected by the proposed platforms and pipeline developments. This chapter was divided between two members and the marks were given on a common agreement.
The specific components I addressed include:
- Climate and meteorology
- Hydrography and oceanography
- Seabed morphology and sedimentology
- Coastal morphology and land use
- Marine geology and seismic stability:
The baseline survey is meant to describe in detail the physical conditions in the area that may be affected. Its purpose is to create the basis of comparison between the conditions that exist before the project is done and the conditions after the impacts. Environmental components facing the strongest negative impacts should be identified and labeled accordingly to be studied more accurately as key components.
According to the Lee-Colley criteria for reviewing the different categories the following gaps were identified:
1.4Environment description: The area and location of the environment likely to be affected by the development proposals should be described – D
- There is only a General Location map in the beginning of the chapter which can not be considered suitable for a good understanding of the environment expected to be affected by the development of the project. A detailed map with all the physical features (relief, hydrography, altitudes) should be included;
- The environment is presented broad enough but there is no comprehensive integration of the components so that the functionality of the overall system can be easily understood. The geo-physical system is the support of all the activities and their consequences therefore it should be well understood in the overall complex context. The coastal system is in general considered a sensitive eco-system but there is not enough attention given to this aspect in order to present a real image of the environment to be affected. More information should be given about the way the component elements interact. A geomorphologic map, to include the localization (possible occurrence) and nature of the geomorphic processes likely to develop, could be used in analysing potential geomorphic hazards. It could correlate various types of geomorphic risk on the shore with relief steps and the hydrometeorological factors liable to exists in these areas. The same type of integrated analysis on coupling factors should be done for the oceanographyc system.
1.5Baseline conditions: A description of the affected environment as it is currently, and as it could be expected to develop if the project were not to proceed, should be presented. C
- Components of the affected environments are identified and described but given the complexity of the project more observations would be needed to answer at least the next questions:
1. What are the main changes in the coastal configuration, the erosion and redistribution of sediment that can be anticipated so that the disturbance caused by the construction associated with the landfalls of the outfall and oil pipelines can be anticipated;
2. Are currents strong enough to mobilize sediments and cause considerable change to the shoreline’s configuration over a short period of time, as a result of only natural processes, including sea level rise and near shore currents?
The associate methods to obtain such observations should be used and mentioned in the report.
- There is no information about the ground types in Sakhalin nearshore environment as a very important component of this particularly sensitive environment, which can be considered a significant omission;
- There is uncertainty in the case of tsunami and earthquakes occurrence, faults and gas anomalies presence and potential intersection with the drilling wells but it is not well indicated and therefore it is doubtful if it was properly taken into consideration in impact prediction.
- The region is considered seismically unstable region with regular earthquakes but there is not enough information about this hazard. Different sources assign different orders of potential magnitude; there is not a lot of emphasis on the fact that this is a highly seismic area in a dynamic environment;
- Relevant maps (land altitude and water depth, geologic hazards, ground types near shore) are missing and the ones used can not be clearly read and interpreted; Aerial photos could give a more accurate picture of the dynamic processes which are shaping the area;
- Indicators are used to asses the quality of the water and air but standards are not mentioned all the time (no thresholds for nutrients presence); no observations on what their variations could be (between samples or stations, or surveys, with water depth etc.);
- No particular favorability for the two locations of platforms is explained in order to exclude other sites and justify minimised impacts on the near shore environment. No scientific base is given to present and reject alternatives. There is no figure about the estimated hydrocarbons deposits, which will be exploited in the area.
- No information about the impact of the Phase I on the existing environment; are the current conditions just the result of the existing natural and economic conditions or are already altered by the first phase? This is important further in estimating cumulative impacts.
- There is no clear identification of key components and key hazards (erosion, seisms, volcanic activity); no ierahization of physical features and processes that have different sensitivities ( ex: highly mobile sediments - disturbance of highly mobile sediments will lead to increased water turbidity as well as increased sedimentation as the sediment settles)
- Faults and gas anomalies are considered the only geo hazards but no risk assesment is done;
- No land use plans or maps are shown or mentioned to be used to provide information about the utilization of the coastland. This could provide information about the locations of important elements of exiting natural and antropic environment and where the new elements would fit in.
The main deficiencies in the communication of results are:
- Presentation of data is not well sustained by relevant maps which are necessary in the description of the physical environment;
- Statements are often made without enough scientific explanatory data and no methodology to explain the results;
- The importance of some existing natural factors is minimized (seismicity).
There is not enough information, data and data interpretation about the existing environmental physical conditions. Parts are well attempted but must, as a whole be considered just unsatisfactory because of omissions or inadequacies, such as:
- no suitable relevant maps
- no information about soils;
- no analysis of coupling meteorological and oceanographic conditions with the other elements of this complex environment;
- no risk assessment for cyclones and seismic activity ;
- no emphasis on the most vulnerable components.
The accuracy of the impact predictions is therefore doubtful, as there is not complete assessment of the environmental conditions. No key elements are identified nor labeled so that further key impacts can be analyzed. Imprecision and lack of detail of the statements about environmental components lead to the necessity to make assumptions leading to further inaccuracies.
II. Existing Environment (Chapter 1) (Iordan Hristov)
This chapter reviews the described baseline conditions of the existing living environment around the Sakhalin project area. The description is part of chapter 1 in volume 2, from the EIS for the Sakhalin 2 Energy Project. The revision will cover three major aspects. The first one will look at the comprehensiveness of the description of each element of the environment i.e. What is there? The other aspect, will look at the relationship of that particular element with the others i.e. Why it is there?, and furthermore, will be checked data explaining what will happen in the ecosystem if an accident occurs. Reviewing these aspects is a base for the future estimation of risks and impact assessment of the project on the environment and is considered for the “essence of ecological impact assessment” (Treweek 1999). The components of the existing environment that will be reviewed are marine invertebrates and fish communities, marine mammals, seabirds, and the human environment. This revision will argue that the description of the baseline conditions of the existing biological environment that is done in chapter 1 of volume 2 from the EIS is not done thoroughly. As a result, comprehensive EIS and precise prediction of impacts cannot be done because of the existing gaps.
Throughout the whole part of chapter 1 in volume 2, which describes the living environment was not found the role of particular group of organisms in the environment. A description of the way the ecosystem works is necessary i.e. How does a particular element relate to the others? What amount of biomass or phytoplankton does a representative from a community need and has? What are the products that one organism produces and is used by other organisms. This information will help us describe the functions of each element of the existing ecosystem. Without knowing how an ecosystem functions one is not able to predict the reaction of the ecosystem if an element belonging to that ecosystem is affected.
Besides the “internal” ecosystem relationship, information was also not found for the “external” relationships. When a number is given, it is not explained whether it is high or low. The number is not related to similar environmental conditions. Besides the Gray Whale, there is a lack of information for the percentage of the local number of organisms in relation to the population size on a larger scale. This information would help us estimate how important is the particular population and what might be the possible results on a larger scale if an accident occur - whether an accident will lead to the extinction of the species from the Earth or will harm the local population.
It could not be found information for the viability of the populations. Information was not found about the minimum number of individuals from particular species that could guarantee that the population would not become extinct if an accident occurs. To prove the viability of the species populations, data should be given for the numbers and distribution of reproductive individuals and insure the long term existence of the organisms in the area (USDA 1982). Although there is a figure for reproductive Gray Whales, it is not said the birth rate, which will tell us how many whales annually can be calved and how viable is the population in long terms. Having in mind the long period needed for whales to reach a sexual maturity – 5 to 11 years (ACS 2004), the long period of nursing the calves – 7 to 8 months (ACS 2004), and the low birth rate - one calve per two years or more (ACS 2004), it should be explained the sensitivity of the species to disturbance. If a precise prediction of the viability of the population is not made, even a small-scale impact might cause the extinction of the local population and further degradation of the ecosystem can occur.
There is an overall scarce of visual materials representing the abundance, distribution, species composition, densities of populations, and movements. As a result one will not be able to predict the impact of the platforms and the pipelines connecting the platforms with the shore.