Every year about 1.7 million tonnes of oil, or one third of the oil used in the country, is produced in Belarus
Today, many countries have been actively working on the technologies for extracting shale gas, which they say could be the energy solution in the future. Is Belarus considering producing gas from shale?
In 2012, in accordance with the instructions of the head of state and the Prime Minister of Belarus to assess the prospects of discovering shale gas deposits in our country, we established a group of experts. Its members are specialists of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belneftekhim Concern, and Russian experts with surveying experience in shale gas. In January-February 2012, the group conducted an express-analysis of the possible discovery of shale gas deposits in the territory of the Republic of Belarus. As a result, they selected eight promising sites: three in Brest Oblast within the basins of the PodlaskaBrest cavity and five in Gomel Oblast within the Pripyat Trough.
The feasibility of development of shale gas deposits will be determined based on the results of the geological survey. But I want to say that not everything is simple with this raw material. Its industrial production involves significant environmental risks.
It is common knowledge that in the present-day world the sustainable development of a country depends not only on a welldeveloped industrial complex but also on the conservation of natural resources and a favorable ecological environment. Which areas in this regard do you believe to be of top priority for Belarus? Which environmental projects is our country part of, how efficient are they?
Belarus’ socioeconomic development program for 2011-2015 outlines the main goal of the national environmental policy, i.e. environmental enhancement and safety, efficient use of natural resources, maintenance of natural integrity, including unique natural complexes.
As for the main components of the environment – subsoil assets, air (including climate), water, soil, biodiversity, specially protected natural sites, the program describes the top priorities at the national level, relevant events and a mechanism of their implementation.
Apart from the major environmental document, the country is implementing a whole array of governmental, national, sectoral and regional programs and developing strategic long-term documents.
In particular, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection acts as a state customer of a whole bunch of such documents, including the programs on developing deposits and raw-materials in the Republic of Belarus in 2011-2015, government programs on securing the operation and development of Belarus’ national environmental monitoring system for 2008-2014, a branchwise program on developing the state hydrometeorological services for 2011-2015.
Belarus is taking part in the program “Monitoring of the Earth’s Polar Areas and Support of Arctic and Antarctic Expeditions 2011-2015” as well as the national action plan to fulfill Belarus’ commitments to the provisions of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in 2011-2015.
Specialists of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection take an active part in the preparation of the country’s strategic environmental documents. Among them is the Water Strategy of the Republic of Belarus for the period up to 2025, the strategy on the preservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for 2011-2020, a strategy for the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.
The ministry attaches utmost attention to expansion and enhancement of international technical cooperation. Foreign technical aid is viewed as an additional source and one of the instruments to improve environmental protection and rational nature management.