At the upcoming Ministerial meeting of Helsinki Commission, (25-26 June, 2003 in Bremen, Germany), environmental groups from the Baltic Sea region will urge the European Commission to take immediate action concerning environmental impacts of oil extraction in the Baltic Sea.
Russia plans to start offshore oil extraction near the Curonian Spit National Park which is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Baltic Sea in 2003. The Russian LUKOIL company is preparing to open the D-6 oil deposit (Kravtsovskoje)  , situated 22 km from the coast in the Kaliningrad region, very close to the Lithuanian-Russian border (EU-Russian border since 2004) on the Baltic Sea shelf. This project will cause negative environmental impacts for Lithuania, Russia and possibly other countries in Baltic Sea area.
At a meeting of the Helsinki Commission, where Environment Ministers from the Baltic Region and from European Union members states will meet, environmental groups from the Baltic Sea region will express serious concerns about the planned D-6 offshore oil extraction and violations of international agreements by the Russian Government. The groups state that there is a high danger of environmental pollution, permanent oil leakage, accidental oil spills and other negative impacts during the exploitation of the D-6 project. Both the Curonian Spit and the Baltic sea, an exceptionally sensitive ecosystems, are facing serious threats.
Both the Lithuanian and Russian parts of the Curonian Spit are important and valuable recreational places with large tourism potential. Millions of euros have already been invested in the development of sustainable tourism, nature protection and environmental projects by local municipalities, national governments and international donors. But due to Russia’s controversial plan for oil extraction, all these investments and achievements are seriously being endangered. The future of the whole region could be altered from an attractive sustainable tourism spot to a devastated area.
Gunnar Noren, Executive Secretary of Coalition Clean Baltic  stated that we demand the Helsinki Commission and the EU Commission to stop violations of international environmental law like the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea and the Helsinki Convention, concerning this oil extraction project.
The planned D-6 project contradicts and endangers the principles of sustainable development for the Baltic Sea Region as settled in many international agreements and documents, such as the Baltic Agenda 21 adopted by Ministers of Environment and Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) in 1998, Helsinki Convention and the Convention on Environmental Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention). Russia has repeatedly violated the Helsinki Convention agreements, such as the Recommendation 17/3 on Information and Consultation with regard to Construction of New Installations affecting the Baltic Sea, by not providing a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in English to HELCOM Contracting Parties and observers.
Baltic environmental organizations have asked Baltic Sea region governments and EU to start negotiations for an international moratorium on oil extraction on the Baltic Sea continental shelf, and to set up strictly binding uniform environmental standards for possible oil-extraction in the Baltic Sea.
The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources approved D-6 project following principles of Soviet style conspiracy and secrecy, despite violations of both Russian and international legislation and court cases against LUKOIL for denied access to information and independent Environmental Assessment.
Linas Vainius from Lithuanian Green Movement stressed the fact that for three years now, the Russian Government has neglected civilized dialogue and refused to provide any information about planned the oil extraction at D-6, despite numerous requests by Lithuanian Government, the Helsinki Commission, the World Heritage Committee and international environmental Non-Governmental Organisations.
Concerning D-6, environmental NGOs call Russian Government: to disclose EIA materials and the conclusions of the Russian Ministry of Natural resources concerning D-6 project; to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment for the D-6 project according the Convention on Environmental Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) with involvement of all interested stakeholders; to stop implementation of the D-6 project until results of the EIA under Espoo Convention are known.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS:
: This oil deposit, with estimated reserves of 24 million tonnes, was discovered in 1983. During the Soviet period, in 1985, the Kaliningradmorneftegaz company began preliminary platform construction works. Later in 1987, these activities were cancelled due to strong public protests. A commission set up by the USSR State Science and Technical Committee (after public requests) found that the environmental aspect of the project was not safe enough and did not protect the Baltic Sea, the Curonian Spit and other coastline from possible accidental oil spillage. These assumptions proved to be correct based on events in June 1983. During drilling tests on the D- 6, approximately 70 tonnes of oil were spilled into the Baltic Sea and soon reached the Curonian Spit. Around 20 kilometres of coastline was polluted with oil both on the Russian and Lithuanian sides.
: CCB is a network for cooperation and coordination between 27 environment NGOs, comprising over half a million members in all countries around the Baltic Sea. The over-riding goal for CCB is to promote the protection and improvement of the environment and natural resources of the Baltic Sea area. See also: www.ccb.se
. The Helsinki Commission, or HELCOM, works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea through intergovernmental co-operation between Denmark, Estonia, the European Community, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. HELCOM is the governing body of the “Convention on the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area” (Helsinki Convention). See also: www.helcom.fi