New York, June 18 – Despite the importance of oil and gas for the Russian economy, Moscow has done little to prevent the collapse of geological exploration and now finds itself forced to launch yet another campaign to create a petroleum prospecting service, according to a group of Siberian analysts.
That is the real explanation for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s call this week to create “a centralized and vertically integrated system” to discover and monitor new mineral resource locations in general and oil and gas fields in particular, according to experts at the Babr.ru Analytic Center in Irkutsk (news.babr.ru/?IDE=78532).
As “Kommersant” reported yesterday, Putin was disturbed to discover that there was no one place where he and other Russian officials could get information on mineral deposits and no country-wide network of experts looking for additional deposits of oil and gas, key elements for Russia’s future (www.kommersant.ru/doc.aspx?DocsID=1188166).
The Moscow paper reported that Putin said that he plans to form “a special working group attached to the government commission … on minerals and raw materials and assist it to present proposals for creating a centralized vertically integrated system for the administration of mineral resources.”
Various commentaries have suggested that Russia is now focusing on the development of new fields, without pointing out that most of these “new” fields were in fact identified much rather than being the result of geological research over the last several years (www.infox.ru/business/company/2009/06/16/Istoshcyeniye_syyrye.phtml).
But as the Babr.ru experts pointed out, Putin did not specify just who would play this role because neither he nor the Moscow media pointed out that “up to the present in Russia have practically completely disappeared all Soviet geological structures, and the profession of geologists is now an exotic one.”
At a time when Russian oil and gas production is already starting to decline, the lack of geological specialists in this sphere that Babr.ru is pointing to is especially serious. If more fields are not discovered and discovered soon, Moscow will find it hard to maintain production at current levels and thus nearly impossible to finance the country’s economic development.