New Russian oil terminal opens in Vysotsk, near Vyborg
Finland's Ministry of the Environment: port itself is safe, problems are at sea
Lukoil, Russia's largest oil producer, has opened a new export terminal in Vysotsk in the Leningrad Region, close to the city of Vyborg. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov took part in the opening ceremony on Thursday.
The port has already seen one opening ceremony in December last year, when one tanker visited the terminal. After that, oil traffic came to a halt while construction work continued.
In the first year, Lukoil plans to export 2.5 million tonnes of oil through the Vysotsk port. The amount is minute compared to the nearby Primorsk terminal, through which up to 40 million tonnes of oil may be shipped out this year.
Last year, a total of 70 million tonnes of oil were shipped through the Gulf of Finland. The amount is believed to double by the year 2010.
Vysotsk's exporting capacity is meant to increase to 4.3 million tonnes and later up to 10.6 million tonnes per year. The fact that Vysotsk relies on oil delivered to the port by rail sets limits to the growth.
President Semen Vainshtok of Transneft, the state-owned oil pipeline monopoly, suggested at the beginning of June that Lukoil render the operating of the port to the state-owned Transnefteprodukt, in which case Vysotsk could be connected to the oil pipeline network.
Lukoil has announced that the company has spent EUR five million on environmental protection in Vysotsk. The terminal has a fleet of five ships for oil spill and clean-up measures.
The Finnish company Lamor has provided the port with oil-gathering equipment.
Martti Poutanen of the Finnish Environment Ministry trusts in the port's technical preparedness for possible emergencies.
Lukoil's responsibility extends only up to two kilometres from the shore. At sea the state authorities take care of oil spill measures.
"Our greatest fear is a large scale accident at sea. The increased traffic in oil on the Gulf of Finland calls for intensified international cooperation, and increased oil clean-up capacity for open sea and icy conditions", warns Poutanen.
Lukoil has promised that only double-hulled tankers fortified against ice will be allowed in Vysotsk.
At present, most such ships transporting oil in the Gulf of Finland are registered in flag of convenience countries.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Construction of new oil terminal in Vysotsk proceeding rapidly (15.9.2003)
New Russian oil terminal in Vysotsk would double petroleum transport in Gulf of Finland (30.7.2002)