Kazakhstan oil fields: Five Kilometers of Indifference

Crude Accountability’s new film, “Five Kilometers of Indifference,” describes the many years of struggle of the residents of the village of Berezovka, in western Kazakhstan, to achieve relocation away from one of the world’s largest oil and gas condensate fields, Karachaganak.

“For more than ten years, state government bodies and the international oil consortium have failed to take responsibility for the fates of the people who are impacted by Karachaganak.  The film tells the story of the basic problems the villagers are dealing with,” said Sergey Solyanik, consultant to Crude Accountability.

The Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field is operated by the Karachaganak Petroleum Operating, B.V. consortium, which comprises BG Group (UK), ENI (Italy), Chevron (US), Lukoil (Russia), and KazMunaiGaz (Kazakhstan).

Active development of the field led to intensive environmental pollution, which threatens the health of the residents of Berezovka, half of whom suffer from chronic health problems. Locals live with the constant threat of a potential accident at the Karachaganak Field, which has a high level of hydrogen sulfide.

The situation with Berezovka demonstrates the extent to which international companies and state bodies in Kazakhstan will go to violate the standards of national and international law for the sake of oil and gas extraction.  The illegal reduction of the five kilometre sanitary protection zone around the field and the violation of the villagers’ legal rights to relocation are clear examples of this.

In addition to the intensive environmental pollution, recently a new problem arose: sink holes are appearing in the earth around the field, which, in the opinion on the local residents, are connected with the development of the field.  Regardless of KPO’s statements about social responsibility and support of the local population, the residents continue to live in a village with poor infrastructure.  They have made clear their displeasure with the results of the consortium’s social projects that have been implemented in Berezovka.

The entire history with Berezovka is a history of the gaping holes in the relationships among society, the state and business in Kazakhstan.  How it will end—whether the five kilometres of indifference will continue to exist — depends on all of the participants.

As one of the film’s participants, the journalist Lukpan Akhmediarov, states, “This vicious cycle between the oil company consortium and our corrupt bureaucrats can only be broken by active civic action.  And, I am convinced that sooner or later this will happen and people will force themselves in between these two players. Only then can we talk about real corporate social responsibility in Kazakhstan in the interaction among three fundamental players: oil companies, the government and civil society.”


Additional information about our campaign at Karachaganak can be found here http://crudeaccountability.org/campaigns/karachaganak/