From: Jessica Bachman, Reuters, MOSCOW
Published February 19, 2011 09:20 AM

Russia may tweak Arctic park border for oil firms: WWF

Russia's Natural Resources Ministry wants to set an Arctic nature reserve's borders in a way that environmentalists say will subvert existing boundaries to accommodate the oil drilling plans of BP and Rosneft.

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Last month BP -- seeking to recover from the impact of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill -- and Russia's state-run major Rosneft said they would drill for oil in three huge offshore blocks in the Arctic Kara Sea.

Two of these blocks, according to a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) map, encroach on waters that are part of a protected national park and are home to polar bears and whales.

The government ministry argues that the border has yet to be demarcated, while the environmental group said it was fixed when the park was created in 2010.

"The boundaries of the Russian Arctic national park are not blurred. They were demarcated with all the precise coordinates, which formed the basis of the government's executive order that established the park last year," Aleksey Knizhnikov of WWF -Russia told Reuters on Friday.

Earlier in the day the ministry released a statement saying the location and borders of the national park and its waters are now going through an approval process with the ministry's various departments.

Article continues: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/18/us-russia-oil-arctic-idUSTRE71H5GD20110218

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