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Environmentalists suggest the oil and gas reserves questing “Blackstairs Energy Armenia” LLC to make amendments in its contract with the Ministry of Nature Protection and Energy and Natural Resources
Getting informed that “Blackstairs Energy Armenia” LLC is planning to carry out oil and gas exploration activities in Sevan basin, Gavar and Yerevan Aarhus Centres received numerous phone calls and letters from environmental activists and NGOs operating both in the capital and in Gegharkunik province; especially that the public hearings over the bid on the similar works evaluation on environmental impact assessment of the oil and gas geological exploration activities at the 6th conditional area in Syunik were held in Kapan Aarhus Center and certain information was published at the Aarhus website. However, about the public hearings held in Gegharkunik region the Aarhus Centre

Coordinator got informed only a few days ago, surely having no opportunity to take part in the hearings and attract a greater number of citizens.

Thus Yerevan Aarhus Center, on the public demand, initiated a public debate, inviting all interested parties (leadership of “Blackstairs Energy Armenia” LLC, representatives of the Energy and Natural Resources and Nature Protection ministries, NGOs, civil initiatives, the Department of Geological – Geographical Centre for Sustainable Development of YSU, as well as the media.).

Qristine Vardanyan, financial and administrative director of “Blackstairs Energy Armenia” LLC presented information regarding geological prospecting works carried out in 2015-2016 at the 4th conventional area in Gegharkunik region.

The environmentalists and scientists were mainly interested in what purpose the company was conducting those works. As a result of the cross-questions it became clear that for production purposes in case of revealing industrial reserves. But the company’s financial and administrative director Qristine Vardanyan and geophysicist Georgi Aslanyan noted that they are carrying out a very useful work in Armenia: delivering data obtained as a result of valuable exploration in the form of report to archive. Furthermore at this time there is no any single word about drilling, especially about the extraction and the environmentalists can state their opinions at the next stage: during the public hearings regarding drilling operations. But the environmentalists advised to stay far from Sevan initially, as no any drilling work could be even outlined there.

Representatives of the company cited the law on Sevan and assured that the company’s activity in Sevan basin will not go beyond geological exploration works.

Lawyer Arthur Grigoryan noted that the verbal assurances are not constituted as a legal basis and proposed to make amendments in the contract, to define the purpose legally clearly: if at the 4th section in Gegharkunik region are being carried out only exploitation works to determine the general geological situation or for using natural resources in the future. Many of the participants also joined to that suggestion, that it should be specified in the contract that the company will take responsibility for the fact that in case of revealing reserves in Gegharkunik region, it will not be extracted.

In response, the company advised to submit their proposals to the Ministry of Nature Protection.

Mary Chaqryan
Armenian Aarhus Centers Press Officer

E-mail: aarhusnews@gmail.com
Translated by Anush Beybutyan