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Gazprom's Obskaya – Bovanenkovo railroad in Yamal peninsula, Arctic Russia

Yet another construction related to the Yamal mega gas export in the Yuribey river, at the expense of local bodiversity and the Nenets indigenous population's cultural and social values.


The Obskaya – Bovanenkovo railway is related to Gazprom’s Yamal gas megaproject in the Arctic Russia. By expanding the railroad communication, the Yamal project ensures the delivery of technical equipment, construction materials and transportation of personnel to Yamal gas fields  [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Gazprom's Obskaya – Bovanenkovo railroad in Yamal peninsula, Arctic Russia
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Yamal Penninsula
Location of conflict:Bovanenkovo
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The railroad stretches for 572 kilometers from the Obskaya station to the Karskaya station (525 kilometers to the Bovanenkovo station). It includes 5 stations, 12 passing loops, and 70 bridges with a total length of more than 12 kilometers. The entire railroad was opened for traffic in 2011 [1].

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Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10 000 (Nenets)
Start of the conflict:2016
Company names or state enterprises:Gazprom (Gazprom) from Russian Federation
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:-Nenets tribe of Yamal
-The Barents Observer, an alternative environmental media
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Artisanal miners
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Informal workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Property damage/arson
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Air pollution, Genetic contamination
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Other socio-economic impactsSacredness values are threatened
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Proposal and development of alternatives:The alternative proposed by Gazprom's was to use a technology for construction, that is raising the railroad above the water aiming to avoid disturbing the traditional lifestyles of the local population. Furthermore, the government stated that resource extraction in the Arctic must and will continue, and that more projects were welcomed along the Northern Sea Route [6] [5].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Rapid development of the region combined with global warming are threatening the nomadic lifestyle. For the government, the Nenets’ ancestral homeland is first and foremost Russia’s main oil and gas reserve [6] [5].
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[7] Forbes, B.C. 2013. Cultural Resilience of Social-ecological Systems in the Nenets and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs, Russia: A Focus on Reindeer Nomads of the Tundra. Ecology and Society. 18(4): 36.
[click to view]

[7] Forbes, B.C. Cultural Resilience of Social-ecological Systems in the Nenets and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs, Russia: A Focus on Reindeer Nomads of the Tundra. Ecology and Society. 18(4): 36.
[click to view]


[1] Institute for Security and Development Policy: New Gas Plant Threatens Indigenous Livelihoods in Russia’s Far North
[click to view]

[2] Gazprom official site: Obskaya – Bovanenkovo
[click to view]

[2] Gazprom official site

[3] The Barents Observer 2016: Grand railway deal for Yamal
[click to view]

[4] Nenets

[4] Nenets tribe
[click to view]

[5] Greenpeace 2016: If you’re left without reindeer, there is nothing else
[click to view]

[6] National Geographic: They Migrate 800 Miles a Year. Now It’s Getting Tougher
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:ENVJUST PROJECT Arctic Project ICTA-UAB (KH)
Last update24/01/2020
Conflict ID:4878
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