Ecology comes first in Russian Caspian oil search

Russia's first Caspian Sea oil rig has started operations in a major project for Lukoil, where environmental issues are in focus.

Oil revenues is one of the main sources of income for Caspian nations. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have been active in oil extraction in the region for years.

In 2009, Russia has decided to take advantage of its vast energy deposits, starting a project of its own.

But while previous explorations threatened the environment – a Kazakh project reportedly killed hundreds of seals in the Caspian several years ago – Russia took a different approach, according to Igor Nasenko, an employee at the Yury Korchagin oil rig

“Our company has more than ten years of drilling experience in the Caspian Sea. We stick to the policy of zero discharge. Which means that nothing gets into the water. No damage to the sea, no hazardous emissions.”

Vagit Alekperov, the president of Russia's biggest PRIVATE oil company, Lukoil, grew up on the Caspian Sea. He says taking care of its precious ecosystem seems only natural. That's why he personally examined Lukoil's equipment for detecting, and cleaning, oil spills – should they ever happen.

“We have a whole system of ecomonitoring here. It includes GPS monitoring that will detects any oil spills on the surface of the sea. We also have detectors that check the chemical content in the water, it will tell us if there are any oil leaks.”

Lukoil says an estimated 30 oil rigs will mushrooom in the Russian part of the Caspian Sea over the next decade. But with safety as one of the main self-proclaimed priorities for the company, there's a good chance that the environmental impact will be minimal.