Geographers and Physicists at Lomonosov MSU to Assess the Influence of Oil and Gas Production on Arctic Ecosystems

Новый Уренгой, закат на реке Седэяха. Фото: Сергей Черкай, участник конкурса РГО "Самая красивая страна"

In August, the employees of the Faculty of Geography and the Nuclear Physics Research Institute of Moscow State University investigated soils, river and lake sediments, road dust and ground-level aerosol (including at the nearby oil and gas condensate field) in Novy Urengoy. The work carried out within the framework of the project of the Russian Geographical Society will help to assess the degree of environmental pollution by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, heavy metals and metalloids as a result of the flaring of associated gas.

The Urengoy oil and gas condensate field is one of the largest in the world. Novy Urengoy is considered the gas capital of Russia. The Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod gas trunkline begins here.


Подготовка измерителя скорости потока для оценки расходов воды в реке. Фото: С.П. Поршева

The geographers and physicists of Moscow State University conducted field research in several key areas of the city, the Evoyakha, Sedeyakha and Tamcharuyakha rivers, as well as near horizontal flare stacks. More than 500 samples were taken from about 200 locations.

"Our research is aimed primarily at a comprehensive characterization of the current state of the ecosystems of the city of Novy Urengoy. We will also receive the first data on the chemical composition of atmospheric aerosol arising from the combustion of associated gas at the Urengoy field. All this will make it possible to more accurately define the influence of oil and gas production on the pollution of atmospheric aerosols in the Arctic and Subarctic," said the team leader, senior researcher at the Faculty of Geography of Moscow State University, Ivan Semenkov.


Сбор дорожной пыли. Фото: Иван Семенков

According to Semenkov, the data on the composition of the atmospheric aerosol obtained during the expedition will be studied together with the materials of the aerosol research station on Bely Island in the Kara Sea. This is the only station in the West Siberian sector of the Russian Arctic for continuous collection of data on black carbon – a kind of marker of climate processes.

According to preliminary data, it has been established that the ecosystems of Novy Urengoy and the Urengoy oil and gas condensate field are in a satisfactory condition. The surface waters of local rivers have a predictably high color index and are slightly turbid.