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Oil Extraction at Numto Nature Preserve, Russia

The heavenly lake of Numto is threatened by an oil company Surgutneftegas. Oil operations would wreck local communities and spell disaster for its wildlife and ecosystems.


Declaration of transit to sustainable development pattern in the Russian Arctic zone mentioned in recently adopted Russian-Federal programs draws attention to several problems connected with further economic development. Possible emergence of different nature management/land use conflicts is among them, including conflicts at territories of traditional nature use (TTNU) of indigenous  population.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oil Extraction at Numto Nature Preserve, Russia
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Border of Yamal and Khanty-Mansy regions
Location of conflict:Numto Natural Preserve, Beloyarsky
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Land acquisition conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Crude oil
Biological resources
Ecosystem Services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The park covers an area of 556,664 hectares. It occupies a special position in the geography, ecology and ethnography of North of Tyumen region. It is located on the border of Khanty-Mansi

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Project area:721 ha
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:some 220 forest Nenets people + Khanty people (population unknown)
Start of the conflict:01/02/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Surgutneftegas from Russian Federation - Oil extraction, project company
Relevant government actors:Ugra administration
the federal Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Greenpeace International
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Two indigenous people: Khanty and Forest Nentsy
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Oil spills
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Land dispossession, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:As reported by Greenpeace (1) in May 2019 more access to internet and more outside support are needed to stop oil extraction. " For the Khanty, oil extraction means wrecking the environment: heavy vehicles destroying land, which is difficult to recover in the Arctic, possible oil spills poisoning water and less and less places to eat for the reindeer which feed on plants or wild herbs. Many realise the threat oil drilling presents, but few dare to oppose. Nonetheless, courageous protest does take place.
Numto village is located in Numto natural Park in the south of the Russian tundra. Except from the oil industry, It is isolated from the rest of the world. Mobile phones barely get a signal, and the road built by Surgutneftegas is private and 200km to the nearest town. Earlier this year there was a “public” hearing. Finding out about it afterwards, locals called it a sham consultation. While the oil company Surgutneftegas claims it put documents on its website, the locals do not have internet.
Strangers are kept out by a guarded checkpoint. The press is especially not welcome. Two years ago a German journalist tried to visit to report on the tension between locals and oil industry. She was denied access both by car and helicopter. Recently a journalist managed to visit during the reindeer herders’ day festivities– the day Surgutneftegas announced they are installing three more oil drilling wells in Numto."
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:"There’s a lot of lofty talk about indigenous peoples rights to free, prior and informed consent. This means indigenous people have a right to say no to industrial development that may affect their way of life and the health of their lands. However, in reality, the oil industry often ignores this consent. The indigenous reindeer herders from Numto village by Western Siberia are familiar with this lack of responsibility. " (1)
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Appraisal of the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Re-Zoning of the Numto Nature Park by Greenpeace (2016)
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Can zoning resolve nature use conflicts? The case of the Numto Nature Park in the Russian Arctic
[click to view]

Parallel Information: Discrimination against indigenous minority peoples of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation; CERD 93rd Session (31 July to 15 August 2017); Reference: 23rd to 24th periodic reports of the Russian Federation, CERD/C/RUS/23-24
[click to view]

Revealing of Land Use Conflicts at Indigenous Population Territories in the Russian Arctic Using Atlas Information Systems Methodology
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Greenpeace Blog Article: Hope floats at heavenly lake
[click to view]

Heavenly Lake Numto in Western Siberia is Under Threat from Big Oil
[click to view]

Greenpeace Blog Article: Reindeers in Moscow: Saving the sacred lake
[click to view]

Greenpeace Blog Article: The old man and the sea of oil
[click to view]

(1) Will people hear the story of the Numto reindeer herders? by Chihiro Geuzebroek 1 May 2019
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Collection: Protest of Indigenous People against Oil Industry in Moscow (Photos & Video)
[click to view]

Other documents

Numto National Preserve Photo from the article "Hope floats at heavenly lake", by Greenpeace International
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Ayşe Ceren Sarı, Boğaziçi University, [email protected]
Last update22/06/2019
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