Crude oil leaks into water supply after pipeline rupture in Nefteyugansk

Major oil spill by Rosneft company.Rosneft, Russia

A breakage of a pipeline operated by Russia’s state Rosneft oil company could spell ecological disaster after it caused crude oil to spill into the floodwaters of a local river in Nefteyugansk. Crude oil-laced brown water has started running from the taps in homes in and near the city of Nefteyugansk, photographs posted online by local residents suggest.

An oil pipeline belonging to Rosneft, which runs from a local oilfield, broke during a flood in the area, releasing crude into the water. “Crude has spilled into floodwater, but not into the river itself,” Forbes quotes an unnamed Rosneft official.

An oil spill during a flood could lead to an ecological disaster, local news outlet Ugrapro reports. The spill has spread to over 10 hectares, it says. “Now we are not just being flooded, but flooded with oil. Now we will not be able to swim, or go fishing, nothing will grow on the fields,” Ugrapro quoted a local resident as saying.

The level of pollution in the area is seven times higher than the norm, Russia’s Natural Resources Minister Sergey Donskoy told the media. “The initial area of the spill was about 500 to 800 square meters, but I think it could be larger, as the flood affects the situation. The slick is 1 millimeter thick,” he said. “We will have exact numbers by the end of this week or the beginning of the next one. It all depends on how quickly Rosneft can remove the slick.”

Photographs from the scene found in the Russian social network VKontakte show the flooded are visible covered in oil slick.Rosneft, Russia

“The ecosystem [is facing] colossal stress,” LifeNews quoted geology expert Aleksandr Semchyakov, from the Ural State Mining University, as saying. “It is difficult to say what is going to come next: whether fish will die, water supplies will be harmed, plants will die… The most dangerous thing is that when water recedes, the oil byproducts will sink to the soil. They will eventually corrode away, but it might take from a year to several years.”

There is no information about the spill on Rosneft’s website. Rosneft’s subsidiary, extracting company Yuganskneftegaz, said in a statement it was working to clean up the spill: “The company has scrambled all necessary forces and equipment to remove the spill of the oil-containing liquid. In particular 10 rows of protective booms have been installed… The risk of contaminants getting into the Yuganskaya Ob River has been eliminated. The company is undertaking all necessary efforts to minimize the negative impact on the environment. The consequences of the incident will be fully cleaned up.”

However, despite the initial rupture and spill having taken place several days ago, the consequences have not been fully cleaned up yet.