President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Donskoy, we have a large scope of work. I would like to begin with environmental standards. We know how important they are for both the environment and the economy. They require balanced decisions. We have been discussing this for quite some time now. Where are we now on this matter?
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergei Donskoy: Mr President, in your latest Address to the Federal Assembly, you mentioned that new environmental standards have been approved this year, along with measures to encourage the introduction of the best available technologies. This is something we have long been considering. I am grateful for the support; the law has been adopted and will come into effect as of next year.
This will have a bearing on 26 sectors of the economy and a vast majority of the sub-sectors. As of next year, we are launching large-scale work to compile reference books on the best technologies. During 2015–2017, we will compile over 46 such books. This will be done jointly with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Agricultural Ministry – practically all the ministries will be involved.
These reference books will serve as a basis for plans to upgrade enterprises. From 2019, they should all start working in this direction. We have identified 160 enterprises that represent 60 percent of the nation’s polluters. These include Norilsk Nickel, the Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works, a number of non-ferrous metallurgical plants in Krasnoyarsk, water services companies in a number of cities – all the places that require major water and wastewater treatment facilities.
As I have said, this should enter implementation stage in 2019. We expect that this law will allow us to implement a large-scale industry modernisation industry and move to up-to-date environmental standards. Actually, everything is ready, and as of next year, we intend to start implementing the law.
Vladimir Putin: Ok.
Are you in touch with entrepreneurs’ unions?
Sergei Donskoy: Yes, of course. We have contacts with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and with other associations.
Vladimir Putin: Are they aware of this? Do they understand?
Sergei Donskoy: Yes, they do.
Vladimir Putin: They have to prepare.
Sergei Donskoy: That’s true. Many are voicing concern, of course, because this is a large-scale development. In any case, we have identified the key areas and we have to move in this direction, because the whole world is doing so and we should not fall behind. This is also important for the competitiveness of our industrial facilities.
Vladimir Putin: I see.
What else would you like to tell me about?
Sergei Donskoy: Mr President, I would also like to brief you on the situation in geology.
Despite the complicated situation, I would like to stress that this year geology has maintained its development rates. Thus, speaking of the results for the year, the preliminary accounts (we will be adjusting them before the end of the year and in the 1st quarter of next year) show a 550 million ton increase in oil reserves and a 900 billion cubic meter growth in gas reserves.
Vladimir Putin: Does that include the Bovanenkovo field?
Sergei Donskoy: Yes, it does. There is also a 100 million ton growth in condensate reserves. This would make it possible, first, to supplement the volumes we will have this year – we will be updating the year-end figures. We will finalise the numbers that will be approved and reflected on the books next year in the 1st quarter of 2015.
The same is true of solid minerals, like diamonds, coal, common salt and many other solid mineral resources. Here we will see stable simple reproduction, and in some cases even expansion.
I would also like to state that this year Russian geologists have discovered 33 hydrocarbon fields and 53 fields of solid minerals. Some of them are of a world scale. I am sure that you already know about our Arctic field Pobeda – this is a large-scale victory both in terms of the work done and in terms of prospects in the Arctic: once again it was proved that the prospects there are very good. It is a good area that is being developed.
In addition, I would like to note the discovery of new fields in Western Siberia. This might seem an already well-studied territory but new promising oil and gas fields are being discovered here. I am referring to the Urinsk field – this is almost 34 million tons. We have checked – this is one of the six major fields in the world discovered this year. Besides, it is on land, while most of the newly discovered fields are on the shelf. There is a number of other discoveries too.
There is something else I would like to say about reserve growth. Within the framework of its activity on two fields – Astrakhan and Yuzhno-Kirinskoye – in the Sea of Okhotsk, Gazprom has added 716 billion cubic meters to its reserves. This is also an impressive figure. What I am saying is that, despite the difficulties, things are moving along and we will continue in the same pace.
Here I would like to stress the following. Obviously, budget funding is going down, we need to optimise our resources, and we are focussing now on tasks related to removing administrative barriers and encouraging private investors.
Ad regards the latter, this year we have launched the so-called declarative principle, which means that we allocate land parcels and obtain all the approvals and then we offer those areas to anyone willing to invest in their development. These are low-category land parcels with no discoveries so far, but investors are willing to take them on.
Actually, we are currently seeing a ten-fold growth in applications for such projects compared to last year. Despite the fact that there were no sanctions last year, we are seeing a significant improvement this year. This is an effective mechanism and we believe we should develop it further.
Another draft law has passed the third reading, which cancels unnecessary expert assessments in well construction. This, we believe, should reduce the time required to prepare for well construction and simplify the procedure.
Another element of stimulation. We are now finalising a mechanism that would simplify the procedure for allocating land parcels for hard to extract reserves. Here we are also applying a sort of declarative principle. We remove all obligations except one – technology development.
In other words, we would like to set off an innovative mechanism because it is very important to develop hard to extract reserves in terms of long-term perspective and import replacement. This would make it possible to increase reserves on the territories where the companies are not operating now.
There is one more thing I would like to tell you, Mr President. As you may remember, in 2010, we took part in the Tiger Summit. This was a large-scale event that resolved to conduct an inventory of the Amur tiger in the winter of 2014–2015.
This year we plan to conduct this inventory on a territory of 150,000 square kilometres. We have identified about 1,500 routes, and some 2,000 federal and regional experts will be involved in this work. We hope that this inventory will confirm that we have 550 Amur tigers on our territory.
Vladimir Putin: Our estimate was about 450 back then.
Sergei Donskoy: Right. We are expecting some growth, but the inventory will show. We plan to complete all the work in ten weeks, so initial data should be ready in May, including DNA, expert assessments and tests. Sometime in the middle of next year, we plan to make a report.
Vladimir Putin: Ok, I will be looking forward to it.