"Economic Development and the Environment"
on the Sakhalin Offshore Oil and Gas Fields II

Copyright (C) 1999 by Slavic Research Center, Hokkaido University.
All rights reserved


Environmental Consciousness in Sakhalin:
Background and Views on the Sakhalin Offshore
Oil-Gas Development

Tsuneo Akaha and Anna Vassilieva


The Public Opinion Survey
In the latter half of August 1998, we visited Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk and established a contact with several researchers and environmental activists. We also interviewed school teachers, university professors, university students, journalists, business people, and Oblast administration representatives. Among others, we met with researchers of the Sociological Research Laboratory of Sakhalin State University and members of the Environmental Watch of Sakhalin (an NGO with affiliation with the Pacific Environment and Resources Center in Oakland, California). We informed them of our desire to conduct a small survey to get a sense of the range of views among the citizenry about the anticipated impact of the offshore gas and oil development in Sakhalin. We wanted to get at the views of people who we assumed had some knowledge of at least Sakhalin 1 and Sakhalin 2. They agreed to cooperate on this research project. We asked them to secure about the same number of respondents in each of the following categories: NGOs, the mass media, elementary and secondary school teachers, the business community, the Sakhalin Oblast duma and administration, the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk city administration, university professors and students, and scientists.
In September-December representatives of the Sociological Research Laboratory and the Environmental Watch of Sakhalin distributed a questionnaire survey we developed to 120 individuals in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk. We received 111 completed surveys. We entered 110 of them into a database using the Excel spreadsheet program.

Profile of Respondents

We will first present the profile of our respondents in terms of their profession/occupation, level of education, and age.

Table 1 shows the breakdown of the 110 respondents by profession. As we will note later, occupation is one of the factors that differentiate our respondents' attitude toward the Sakhalin oil and gas projects.

The highest level of education our respondents have received is shown in table 2. About 76 percent of them have received higher education, about 11 percent are currently receiving higher education, about 8 percent have received technical secondary education, and another 4 percent have received secondary education. One respondent has received only high school education. Unfortunately, given the small size of our sample and the disproportionate number of respondents with the same level of education, this factor cannot be meaningfully related to our subjects' responses to our survey.

Table 1. Respondents by Profession
Profession # of respondents %
NGO
(of which environmental NGO)
Mass media
Teacher
Business
Oblast duma/administration
City administration
University student
University professor
Scientist
9
(3)
9
14
11
11
11
14
11
20
8.2
(2.7)
8.1
12.7
10.0
10.0
10.0
12.7
10.0
18.2
Total 110 99.9*
* The total does not equal 100% due to rounding error.

Table 2. Respondents by Education Level
Education # of respondents %
Higher education
Incomplete higher education
Technical secondary education
Secondary education
High school
84
12
9
4
1
76.4
10.9
8.2
3.6
0.9
Total 110 100.0

Table 3 shows the age distribution of our respondents. Two of them are under the age of 20, 36 (33 percent) are in their 20s, 19 (18 percent) in their 30s, 30 (28 percent) in their 40s, 16 (15 percent) in their 50s, and five (5 percent) in their 60s. Age is another factor of some importance, as we will note later.

Table 3. Respondents by Age
Age # of respondents %
up to 19
20-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
60-69
2
36
19
30
16
5
1.9
33.3
17.6
27.8
14.8
4.6
Total 108* 100.0
* Two respondents did not indicate their age.

Impact Of Sakhalin Oil/Gas Development

We are interested in the views of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk citizens on what they expect to gain or lose as a result of the offshore oil and gas development.

Impact of Sakhalin Citizens

We asked, "What benefits do you foresee for the citizens of Sakhalin from the ongoing development of offshore oil and gas reserves?" As table 4 shows, 71 respondents (about 65 percent) expect positive benefits for Sakhalin citizens, but a significant number of people (33, or 30 percent) anticipate no benefits.
Table 4. Benefits for Sakhalin Citizens
Benefits for citizens # of respondents %
Yes
No
NA*
71
33
6
64.5
30.0
5.5
Total 110 100.0
* Includes "no answer," "don't know."

Table 5 shows the range of benefits our respondents expect from the oil and gas development projects, ranked from the most frequently mentioned to the least. Employment opportunities were cited by 42 (59 percent) out of the 71 respondents that expect positive benefits for Sakhalin citizens. Other frequently cited benefits are increased and cheaper gas energy for home and industrial use (18 respondents-25 percent), regional economic development (16-23 percent), improved living standards (14-20 percent), better infrastructure (14-20 percent), increased tax revenues and budget for the regional government (12-17 percent), and more investment (8-11 percent).

Table 5. Type of Expected Benefits for Citizens
Type of benefits for citizens # of respondents       %*
Employment opportunities
Gas energy (power, heat, etc.)
Economic development in region
Improved living standards
Improved infrastructure
Increased tax revenue and budget
Increased investment
Introduction of new technologies
More income for oil/gas employees
Cleaner energy and better air quality
Relative freedom from Moscow
International contacts
Expanded educational opportunities
Other**
42
18
16
14
14
12
8
3
3
3
2
2
2
1 each
59.2
25.4
22.5
19.7
19.7
16.9
11.3
4.2
4.2
4.2
2.8
2.8
2.8
1.4 each
*
**
Out of the 71 respondents who believe there will be benefits.
Includes tourism, skills improvement, technical assistance, business profit, new businesses, salary payment, funding for social programs.

As table 6 indicates, 89 respondents (81 percent) anticipate some negative effects for Sakhalin citizens. In contrast, only 12 respondents (11 percent) expect no negative impact from the Sakhalin oil and gas projects. We can conclude that negative expectations exceed favorable expectations.

Table 6. Negative Effects on Sakhalin Citizens
Negative effects on citizens # of respondents %
Yes
No
NA*
89
12
9
80.9
10.9
8.2
Total 110 100.0
* Includes "no answer," "don's know."

What type of negative impact are the respondents expecting? Table 7 shows the distribution of answers to this question. Seventy-seven (about 87 percent) out of the 89 respondents who expect negative impact cite environmental problems and associated health problems. The next most frequently cited adverse effect is the depletion or misuse of natural resources (almost 17 percent), followed by economic problems (6 percent), and crime and other social problems (6 percent). Among the economic problems that five respondents expect are the exploitation of cheap local labor and dependence of the region's economy on foreigners. One respondent wrote, "If the work is poorly organized, the profits received from gas and oil development will land in the pockets of the authorities." This is a sentiment that we frequently encountered during our interviews of environmental NGO members and elementary school teachers in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk in August 1998.

Table 7. Type of Negative Effects on Citizens
Type of negative effects on citizens # of respondents     %*
Environmental, health problems
Resource depletion
Economic problems, e.g., population decline, dependence
Social problems, e.g., crime, income gap
Business problems
77
15
5
4
1
86.5
16.9
5.6
4.5
1.1
* Some respondents gave multiple answers. The percentage is based on the total number of respondents (89) who anticipate negative effects.

The breakdown of favorable and unfavorable expectations by profession is shown in Table 8. Sakhalin Oblast duma members and administration officials stand out in our sample as the most optimistic group. Ten out of eleven of them anticipate positive impact and five expect negative consequences. Although five of them expect some adverse impact, three of them foresee no such problem. In contrast, university students, university professors, and scientists are fairly evenly split within their respective group as far as expectations of favorable benefits are concerned. They are almost unanimous in anticipating adverse effects on Sakhalin citizens. Teachers' expectations are quite mixed. On the one hand, eleven out of 14 teachers expect favorable impact; on the other hand, twelve teachers anticipate adverse effects. City officials also show mixed attitudes, with eight of them expecting benefits but ten of them expecting negative effects on the citizenry. The most skeptical are the students, with all 14 of them anticipating negative effects and seven of them expecting no benefits, as compared to seven students who expect some benefits. There is also ample skepticism among the media people in our sample. All eight NGO members in our sample expect negative consequences.

Table 8. Expectations of Impact on Citizens by Profession
  # of respondents Benefits to citizens Negative effects on citizens
Profession   Yes No Yes No
NGO
Media
Teacher
Business
Oblast
City
Student
Professor
Scientist
8
10
14
11
11
11
14
11
20
5
7
11
7
10
8
7
5
10
3
3
3
4
0
2
7
4
9
8
9
12
8
5
10
14
10
17
0
1
0
1
3
0
0
1
4
Total* 110 70 35 93 10
* The totals do not match because "no answer" and "don't know" are excluded.

We are also interested in age as a factor. Table 9 shows the breakdown by age regarding the expectations of impact on the citizens of Sakhalin. Although ambivalence is apparent among most groups, skepticism seems the strongest among the youngest groups.

Table 9. Expectations of Impact on Citizens by Age
  # of respondents Benefits to citizens Negative effects on citizens
Age   Yes No Yes No
19-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-64
21
17
10
8
19
11
13
9
11
10
9
4
12
8
10
6
7
6
1
3
7
2
3
1
19
16
9
4
16
9
10
4
0
1
1
2
0
1
2
3
Total* 108 70 30 87 10
* The totals do not match because some respondents did not answer either or both of the questions regarding expected impact on citizens.

Do men and women share similar expectations? As Table 10 shows, of the 52 male respondents who answered our questions about the impact on Sakhalin citizens, 36 (about 69 percent) expect positive benefits, as compared with 12 (23 percent) who have no favorable expectations. In contrast, 34 (about 60 percent) expect favorable impacts but 21 (37 percent) expect no positive benefits. As far as expectations of negative consequences are concerned, about 78 percent of men and about 82 percent of women believe there will be adverse effects, while about 13 percent of men and about 5 percent of women anticipate no negative impacts on the citizens of Sakhalin. These numbers indicate that women appear somewhat more pessimistic than men. We will discuss this at some length later.

Table 10. Expectations of Impact on Citizens by Gender
  # of respondents Benefits to citizens Negative effects on citizens
Gender   Yes No Yes No
Male
Female
52
73
36
34
12
21
41
47
7
3
Total* 109** 70 33 88 10
*

**
The totals do not match because some respondents did not answer either or both of the questions regarding the impact on citizens.
One respondent's gender is unknown.

Next