MOSCOW - Russia Urged to Cut Fuel Leaks : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: Russia Urged To Cut Fuel Leaks

Story Filed: Tuesday, April 25, 2000 1:43 PM EDT

MOSCOW (AP) -- The oil and natural gas that Russia loses in leaks and spills every year could provide enough energy to allow the country to close its nuclear power plants, Greenpeace said Tuesday.

The comments by the Russian, German and Dutch branches of the environmental group came on the eve of the 14th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in Ukraine, which sent a radioactive cloud over much of Europe.

Russia relies heavily on its nine nuclear power plants. No major accidents have been reported at the Russian plants and the government says all Chernobyl-type reactors have been modernized and are safe.

``We are trying to prove that ... the output of nuclear power stations could be substituted,'' said Oganes Targulian, a Greenpeace-Russia oil specialist.

Russian Nuclear Power Ministry spokesman Vladislav Petrov was skeptical about the Greenpeace proposal.

``It's a bit like saying, 'Let's take the whole humankind and transport it to a new, wonderful planet,''' Petrov said by telephone. ``The idea is nice, but can it be realized?''

Between 70 million and 140 million barrels of oil are spilled in Russia every year, out of the approximately 2.1 billion barrels the country produces, according to government and environmentalist estimates cited in a Greenpeace report released Tuesday.

The country also loses between 210 billion cubic feet to 1.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in pipeline leaks every year, the report said. Russia's annual natural gas production has hovered around 19 trillion cubic feet the past few years, according to government figures.

The exact losses are hard to estimate because some companies underreport leaks and spills to avoid paying fines, while others may exaggerate them to hide fuel theft, Targulian told reporters.

Every year, another 630 billion cubic feet of associated natural gas -- a byproduct of oil fields -- is simply burnt up because Russian oil companies say transporting or converting it into energy is unprofitable, Targulian said.

Depending on fuel leak estimates and the efficiency of power plants, the wasted oil and gas could give Russia between 70 billion and 316 billion extra kilowatt-hours of energy every year, according to the Greenpeace report.

In comparison, Russia's nuclear power plants produce 120 billion kilowatt- hours of energy annually, according to government figures cited in the Greenpeace report.

Russia relies on aging pipelines, often hastily built during the Soviet era, and patching fuel leaks would require major upgrades. Greenpeace has not estimated the cost of renovations needed to reduce leaks, Targulian said.

Copyright ) 2000 Associated Press Information Services, all rights reserved.


-- (, April 26, 2000

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