Azerbaijan, Baku, March 16 / Trend V.Sharifov /
President Ilham Aliyev declared 2010 the Year of Environment in Azerbaijan. The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) has been actively working to reduce environmental impacts, including reducing the volume of gas emissions into the atmosphere from offshore deposits, creating an ecological park, establishing a waste management system and other projects. Trend interviewed SOCAR Vice President for Environment Mukhtar Babayev for more information about these and other questions.
Trend : What does SOCAR expect from a project to reduce emissions of associated gas in the shallow part of the Guneshli offshore deposits in 2010-2011? On which fields the company has carried out similar work?
Babayev: In May, we expect to complete the construction and installation works at the compressor station, being built on one of the platforms of the Guneshli field under the company's project to collect and transport associated gas from the field.
The company has launched a similar project to collect associated gas from the Oily Rocks Oil and Gas Production Union (OGPU). In contrast to the compressor stations installed at Guneshli, here the company is setting up small vacuum compressors.
The volume of associated gas from SOCAR's onshore fields is very small and its collection requires a great investment. Despite this, we are working on recycling these gases, together with the World Bank-led Global Gas Flaring Reduction partnership (GGFR).
Q: What amount of operation is expected to conduct in 2010 under the project to establish the waste management system and reconstruct the company's recycling center?
A: The work under the project to establish a waste management system and reconstruct the company's recycling center continues. A new "waste management plan" that is necessary for the preparation of an effective mechanism for the management of waste generated at SOCAR enterprises, as well as joint ventures and operating companies, is under completion.
SOCAR signed a grant agreement with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) as part of the preparation for the project to reconstruct a company recycling center meeting modern requirements. The U.S. company MI SWACO won a tender announced for the preparation of a feasibility study under this project. The project provides for the implementation of complex measures on recycling, waste treatment, and temporary and permanent waste storage using different technologies.
Q: SOCAR has already started working on the creation of ecological park. What are the goals of this project? What kind of work under this project is planned for this year and when will the park be completed?
A: The Ecological Park is being created on the territory of the H.Z.Tagiyev OGPU where 9.3 ha has been allocated for this purpose. The company has already conducted some work in this direction. The construction and installation work on the territory is underway and the company has launched gardening activities.
The park's main objective is to create a modern form of society-environment relations and demonstrate that the problems of environmental advocacy, environmental education and environmental protection are today the primary social responsibility of every citizen. As part of the work on environmental education, the company plans to organize student excursions to the Ecological Park, hold environmental competitions and various events.
The park provides for the operation of a greenhouse that will meet the needs of seedlings able to grow in the natural climatic conditions of Absheron. These plants are necessary for the formation of bands of greenery at SOCAR industrial sites. Work was also carried out on reclamation and bioremediation there.
Q: Do you plan to use alternative energy sources when the park is in operation?
A: The ecological provides for the use of renewable energy sources (solar, wind and thermal energy) for heating, lighting and irrigating the greenhouses as a part of the "State Program on the Use of Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources in Azerbaijan," which was approved by presidential decree Oct. 21, 2004.
The convenient geographical location and climatic conditions in Azerbaijan allower a boader use of alternative clean energy sources. Besides a great fuel economy, the use of such sources significantly reduces the amount of harmful emissions into the environment.
The conversion of solar energy into thermal energy is widespread in world practice. It is considered a main direction of energy in developed countries. Taking into account that there are 300 days of sunshine per year in Azerbaijan, the solar energy industry is promising.
The ecological park also provides for the use of wind energy. This energy is the most effective on the payback of investments and it is inexhaustible. Wind energy has been used from ancient times in Azerbaijan with its windy weather, especially in Absheron, differing according to the number and intensity of windy days.
Q: What work is carried out by SOCAR to reduce emissions of gases from the car park, operated by the company?
A: According to the statistics, about 50-60 percent of harmful substances emitted into the atmosphere are due to the rapidly growing number of vehicles. SOCAR's Ecology Department has established the Center for Environmental Measurements, equipped with the most modern measuring equipment, to strengthen control over air polluted by gases emitted by motor vehicles. There are three points of the center in the territories of Balakhani, Bibiheybat and Hovsan.
Employees at these points regularly conduct inspections of vehicles owned by SOCAR. By March 2010, about 3,000 units of transport and special technique owned by SOCAR's organizations and agencies had already passed environmental inspection. Cars that successfully passed the test received a special emblem, meaning that their gas emissions comply with current regulations. Cars that had problems with their combustion systems were sent for repair and then take for re-inspection.
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