The Tyumen District Arbitration Court has completed a series of three preliminary hearings in relation to the claims of the Tyumen District Timber Board against OOO RN-Uvatneftegaz (part of the Rosneft Oil Company). In total, we are talking about claims for more than 35 million rubles. The lawsuits are filed in the section “Leasing of a forest fund – Failure to fulfill or improper fulfillment of obligations”, however, the court materials show that the officials insist on recovering the damages caused to the forest fund of the Tyumen region.
Photo: Tyumen region.rf
Pravda UrFO sent a request to the Forest Department asking for clarification of the substance of the requirements for the oil company, but at the time of publication of the material there was no response.
Meanwhile, shortly before the lawsuits were filed, Tyumen officials tried to persuade RN-Uvatneftegaz to carry out compensatory reforestation work in exchange for cutting down hundreds of hectares of forest in the Uvat area. These were several lease agreements, under which the forest was destroyed at the Verkhne-Demyanskoye Forest Service.
In the first case, the lease agreement for the area for a period of 11 months was signed in May 2019. Clean felling of damaged trees in an area of 10 acres. In February 2020, the Department sent a letter to the company “Regarding the obligation to carry out compensatory reforestation”. In particular, Tyumen officials insisted on developing a reforestation project and immediate work to compensate for the damage in kind. The oil companies then agreed to the requirements and even sent a letter confirming their intention to fulfill their obligations. Land on the territory of the Sladkovsky and Ishimsky Forests was selected as the site of the compensatory measures, but two years later, RN-Uvatneftegaz did not start work.
The company’s lawyers then explained this inaction with amendments to the Forest Code, which were adopted a year and a half after the completion of the lease agreement. According to the rules in force from 2019 to 2021, RN-Uvatneftegaz had to “reforest or reforest within the territory of the respective subject of the Russian Federation in an area equal to the area of cut forest plantations no. later than one year after logging “. The amendments, which came into force in July 2021, allow to avoid additional costs for planting trees, if the felling was done for geological exploration.
According to the statement of the oil workers, the camp of the seismic party, which was engaged in the geological study of the Vostochno-Gerasimovskiy subsoil, was located on the entire area of 10 hectares. Moreover, after the completion of the geological research, the geologists carried out the restoration of the affected areas, however there was no talk of planting trees there. Based on the new requirements of the Forest Code, the Tyumen Arbitration Court rejected the requests of the Department of the Forest Complex of the area.
A similar situation has arisen in two more lawsuits, in which officials demanded compensatory measures after the cut of 261 and 118 hectares.
Photo: RIA Novosti, Ilya Naimushin
Thus, in September 2018, lease agreements were signed for more than two thousand hectares of plantations. The forest plots were intended to be used for the construction, reconstruction and operation of the linear facilities of the oil company. RN-Uvatneftegaz also talked about intentions to carry out work in 2020, but then abandoned the idea. The oil companies reported that the agreement was signed between the parties in 2018 and the amendments to the Forest Code, which provides for compensation for damage in kind, came into force in early 2019. The project for the development of this area, approved by the section before the amendments entered into force, did not concern the restoration of forest plantations.
As part of one of these disputes, the Tyumen District authorities went through three-instance courts. At the moment, the complaint of the Forest Group Department has been sent to the Supreme Court. No decision has been made yet.
The publication sent a request for information to the press service of Rosneft Oil Company with a request to clarify the position of the company, which first announces the project and with the entry into force of new acts decides to abandon its obligations. In addition, the press service was asked about the type of linear infrastructure needed to cut 379 hectares of forest. There was no response at the time of publication.
Pravda UrFO will continue to monitor developments.