Socio-ecological Union
Projects and campaigns

Far East Seas, Whales and Oil Drilling

The problem
Oil filed development on the sea bed near Sakhalin island is threatening the Gray Whale population that feeds itself at the sea bottom almost at the same place. Main players are Shell and ExxonMobil.

Latest events

Internet for the Protection of Gray Whales

February 19 is the International Day of Whales. Before this festival the environmental action "Internet In Protection of Gray Whales" have started in Russia. "Living Sea", the Far East coalition of ecological organizations by means of Internet-resources addresses to the Russian people and asks them to send the letters to the President and Government with the request to change conditions of the projects on production of oil mining on the Sakhalin shelf, which threatens the population of grey whales. The environmentalists also address to webmasters of the websites with the request temporarily to place the link to the Russian and English language sites of the action, in order that maximum people learn the problem and take action.

The Unique Okhotsk and Korean population of grey whales lives in Russia in waters of the Sea of Okhotsk (Pacific ocean), near the coast of the Sakhalin island (Russian Far East). Population number is lesser than 100 individuals. Every spring grey whales come to the coast of north-east Sakhalin to fatten on their only pasture in the world. This population of rare mammals is under threat of disappearance.

On the shelf of north-east Sakhalin the development of oil and gas deposits by the foreign companies under the projects of "Sakhalin - 1" and "Sakhalin - 2" has begun. For several years whales are compelled to exist in conditions of constant noise from seismic works, intensive navigation and flights of helicopters, pollution of water area by dumps of drilling waste. But after all, any disturbance of animals has immediate effect for their feed and reproduction. Some last years the whales leave on wintering hungry - in 1999 scientists for the first time have find out 10 unusually exhausted whales. In 2000 there were already 27 emaciated whales. The and in 2001 and 2002 in the population still were very exhausted specimens.

But that is not all. The Exxon company plans to construct two piers for delivery of oil and gas equipment on the spit of Piltun gulf, at the centre of feeding pasture of the whales, and also to build oil pipeline through Piltun gulf, which supports and ensures the fodder base of the whales. The "Sakhalin Energy" company intends lining of oil and gas pipelines through southern natural habitat of grey whales and installation of new oil-extracting platform much closer to fodder area of whales than already existing platform "Molickpack".

For prevention of fatal danger for whales it is absolutely unnecessary to close all oil mining at the coasts of Sakhalin - it is enough to change the projects so that to make them more safe for unique mammals, consider environmentalists. "Living Sea", the coalition of Far East environmental organizations calls all people, who is not indifferent to beautiful wild nature and whales, to write the letters to the President, the Government and the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russian Federation, and also to the governor of Sakhalin region with the demand to make several important changes in the shelf oil and gas projects "Sakhalin-1" and "Sakhalin-2". That would be a good present to the whales at the International Day of Whales - 19th February.


The oil mining projects, which threaten grey whales, can develop only after positive conclusion of State Environmental Assessment of the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russian Federation and after approval by Government of Russia and the administration of Sakhalin region. These bodies are included in managing bodies on the "Sakhalin - 1" and "Sakhalin - 2"projects.

There is some period of time still, because the state environmental assessment on both projects has not been held yet, and the Government of Russia has not give the final sanction. If state bodies will receive thousands of letters, it necessarily will influence their decision on the sanction or prohibition of the works, which are dangerous to whales, and on changing of the projects. Moreover there are alternative variants of these projects.


Public demands safety for Gray Whales
50 Environmental organizations from Russia, the U.S., Japan, and Europe have sent the written demands to the two oil giants Shell and ExxonMobil arguing that until they fully comply with these minimal criteria, the Sakhalin projects should not be allowed to move forward. The demands were also sent to government agencies, international financial institutions, and shareholders who have provided the financing that make the projects possible. >>> FULL TEXT

Statement of Common Demands by Environmental NGOs regarding the Sakhalin-1 and Sakhalin-2 Oil and Gas Projects

Seismic testing in whale feeding area - harmful and illegal

Endangered Sakhalin gray whales face cumulative threats on their feeding ground during summer 2001