MOSCOW, October 31 (RIA Novosti) – Planned drilling for shale gas in Ukraine is likely to pollute downstream waters in neighboring Russia, environmental conservation group the World Wide Fund for Nature said Thursday.
Ukraine last year announced a joint project with Europe’s biggest oil company, Shell, to drill for shale gas in the eastern Kharkiv Region, which borders Russia. Extraction is due to begin in 2018 or 2019.
The project is expected to decrease Ukraine’s current dependence on natural gas from Russia following a series of so-called gas wars that saw Moscow using the lucrative resource for political leverage.
But shale gas extraction in the eastern region is likely to pollute the Seversky Donets River, which flows into Russia, the WWF’s Alexei Knizhnikov told RIA Novosti.
Russia cannot compel Ukraine to present an international assessment of the project’s risks because Russia has not ratified the United Nations’ Espoo Convention on cross-border environmental impact, said Knizhnikov, who oversees energy projects at the WWF’s Russian branch.
Moscow and Kiev both signed the convention in 1991, but only Ukraine ratified it.
Russia recently stepped up political pressure on Ukraine over the latter’s plans to sign an association agreement with the European Union next month.
Earlier this week, the chief executive of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom demanded an immediate resolution of Ukraine’s unpaid August gas bill, which he said amounted to $882 million.