Since 2009 Ramboll has worked as the Lenders’ Independent Environmental and Social Consultant (IESC) on the multi-billion dollar Sakhalin II oil and gas development. Our work has been to assess project compliance against the applicable lender standards during both the pre- and post-financial close phases. Our current work scope focusses on the monitoring of operational phases.
Oil and gas exploration in sensitive habitats
Sakhalin Island is off the east coast of Russia, to north of Japan. The area is rich in wildlife and home to numerous endangered species, with one of the world’s most productive fisheries in the waters to the east.
Oil and natural gas fields in the Okhotsk Sea also contain an estimated 1,200 million barrels of crude oil and 500 billion cubic meters of natural gas. The Sakhalin II oil and gas development comprises three offshore platforms, 800km onshore and offshore pipelines, an oil export terminal, and a two-train liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant – the first in Russia.
Working with NGOs
The project has attracted significant non-governmental organisation (NGO) attention, particularly in relation to impacts on the critically endangered western gray whale population, river crossings and indigenous peoples.
In response to these sensitivities, Ramboll acts as the IESC on behalf of the group of financial institutions providing lending to the project and has worked closely with the lender group in support of their response to NGO communications.
The IESC role
Ramboll currently assesses the health, safety and environmental (HSE) performance and compliance of the operation of the project, through annual site monitoring visits, biennial audits and reviewing quarterly HSE reports.
We have worked closely on the formation of the western gray whale advisory panel (WGWAP), convened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and we attend the meetings on behalf of the lenders. The IUCN published a report of their work in October 2016, produced with input from Ramboll’s senior project team.
Ramboll reviewed amendments and updates to key documentation covenanted under the loan agreement, including the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA), stakeholder engagement plan (SEP) and environmental and social management plan (ESMP). We have also undertaken environmental and social compliance assessments of proposed project expansions.
Standards applicable to the project included 1998 World Bank Group (WBG) Safeguard Policies, 2003 Equator Principles (2003), EBRD policies and guidelines (including EU Directives) and the OECD Common Approaches, which included site visits and audits against these standards. From 2013, the IFC Performance Standards 2012 were adopted by the project.