Biodiversity

KPO is committed to carry out its production activities with minimal impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. At the same time, the company has taken over the responsibility for conducting the biodiversity research in the territory of its activities.

The Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field (KOGCF) is situated in the dry steppe zone in the North-West of Kazakhstan with an area in excess of 280 km2. The area of KPO operations is limited, since the official land use right has been granted for the areas located right under the field industrial facilities, pipelines and roads. The areas around KPO facilities are in the ownership and stewardship of number of other stakeholders.

The KOGCF area is a home to a big variety of plant and animal species, amongst there are species red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), by Kazakhstan, and species rare at the KOGCF. It is important for KPO to consider the presence of these species when planning or undertaking operations in the area, although it would be unwise considering their presence or numbers as indicators of the Company’s environmental performance. This is because the species population is subject to changes that may occur due to forces operating at global or landscape scales and are not related directly to KPO operations. Any fluctuations in the abundance of these species would need to be seen in a wider context of trends in a species population. In its turn, KPO strives to undertake its operations in such a way as not to cause direct or indirect impacts on individual species population. During the flora and fauna monitoring work at the Karachaganak field being carried out by the Company on a continuous basis since 2011, no obvious negative effect on the flora and fauna representatives’ habitats from the KPO’s production activities has been observed.

By way of attaining the goal of effective ecosystem management within the boundaries of the Field KPO implements actions aimed for biodiversity preservation pursuant to the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). This plan is based on the assessment of the risks of activities and potential environmental impact and developed in accordance with the methodology stipulated in Standard 1.3.1.47 ESHIA and the Guide to developing biodiversity action plans for the oil and gas sector published by IPIECA / IOGP.

One of the BAP requirements is to assess the potential impact of the company’s production activities on biological diversity and ecosystem services.

Past and present land-use management formed the existing landscape, biodiversity and ecosystems, which continue to be affected by activities and processes both at the local and global levels.

Implementation of KPO Biodiversity Action Plan

Since 2011, KPO have been conducting activities of the Biodiversity Action Plan show in the table below.

Implementation of KPO Biodiversity Action Plan for 2011-2020

Phase

Year

Research studies

1

Implemented:

2011

Development of the Biodiversity Action Plan for 2012-2013

2012

Fauna monitoring within the KOGCF, including the recording of rare fauna species

2013

  • Flora monitoring within the KOGCF impact area by four drivers: air emissions, physical disturbance, water abstraction and grazing;

  • review of satellite images for three periods to identify changes in ecosystems;

  • mapping of the riverine ecosystems of KOGCF water bodies — the Berezovka river, the Konchubai gully.

2

2014

Development of the Biodiversity Action Plan for 2015-2016

2015

Fauna monitoring, including:

  • mapping of air emissions and contaminants concentration in the soil;

  • research of wildlife species diversity (mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles) within the KOGCF with consideration of the KPO operations impact;

  • research of significant species of animals including beavers in the area of the Konchubai gully and the Berezovka river;

  • database update of species inhabiting the KOGCF area based on the results of fauna monitoring.

 

2016

Flora monitoring, including:

  • vegetation monitoring in respect of air emissions, physical disturbance, grazing, effects of the water abstraction;

  • further monitoring of distribution of the rare Russian Fritillary that grows in the areas of the Konchubai gully and the Berezovka river.

 

3

2017

Development of the Biodiversity Action Plan for 2018-2020 in accordance with the Guide to biodiversity action plans for the oil and gas sector published by IPIECA/IOGP

Planned:

2018

  • The continued monitoring of fauna and flora in order to obtain the data on the dynamics of the species diversity state,

  • The continued recording of significant animal species, including beavers, on the territory of the Konchubai gully and the Berezovka River.

First time:

  • Ichthyofauna research study in the water bodies of the KOGCF.

2019

  • The continued monitoring of flora, including rare significant species;

  • Monitoring the dynamics of coastal vegetation for the purpose of integrated assessment of biodiversity and the general state of ecosystems in the territory.

2020

First time:

  • Research on the invertebrates’ species diversity of in the territory of the KOGCF.

 

As part of the BAP scope of work, in 2019, the research was conducted to study the dynamics of changes in plant communities. Alongside with that, the monitoring of land cover was carried out for the first time, which aimed to determine whether there were any significant, measurable changes in its condition to adjust the Company’s activities and preserve biodiversity in this area.

In the stage of studies conducted between 2013 and 2017, within the territory of the Karachaganak field, the key vegetation types were selected, the sites to be observed were determined, and the vegetation monitoring was carried out. Soil monitoring was carried out in these areas for the first time.

In 2019, based on the results of soil and vegetation monitoring at the previously selected 27 sites, the vegetation was analysed in comparison with previous years. Soil and vegetation samples were taken for the content of chlorides, nitrates, sulphates, sulphur and petroleum products.

Soil and vegetation monitoring in the territory of Karachaganak field in 2019

Types of events

Monitoring results

Conclusions

Soil monitoring

In spring 2019, the soil monitoring was started along with the vegetation monitoring in the territory of the Karachaganak field. The purpose of soil monitoring was to obtain analytical information about the state of soils to assess their quality as a medium for the plant growth and development and human life.

Studies of soil conditions at the vegetation monitoring sites did not reveal soil contamination with petroleum products, sulphur, and water-soluble salts. The medium reaction corresponds to the characteristics of soils in the territory of the Karachaganak field. Monitored ingredients, in the quantities they are contained in the Karachaganak field soils, are not limiting for the plant growth and development.

Vegetation monitoring

Five (5) species listed in the «Red book» of the Kazakh SSR and endangered species were registered in the research area: carnation andrzejowskianus (Dianthus andrzejowski), Schrenk’s Tulip (Tulipa shrenkii), Bieberstein’s Tulip (Tulipa biebersteiniana), Spring adonis (Adonis vernalis), Fischer’s star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum fischeranum). Out of the endemic species, there is a short-bladed Astragalus (Astragalus brachylobus). In addition to the rare species which grow on monitoring sites, the Russian grouse (Fritillaria ruthenica), rare species confined to the territory of the water protection zone, was also recorded. In 2019, this species was registered on four sites near the tributaries of the Berezovka river. The total number was six (6) specimens.

There were no signs of the field impact on the Russian grouse population involving any significant changes in the environment after the initial study in 2010. The overall increase in the number of plants suggests that this species is not under immediate threat of extinction in the territory of the Karachaganak field.

It should be noted that individual populations in each study area are very vulnerable to catastrophic impacts, such as disturbances of the earth surface, therefore, it is necessary to continue to take their presence into account when planning projects in this part of the field.

The results of monitoring vegetation cover show that the main negative impact factor on vegetation as a result of production activities at Karachaganak field is the physical impact: grazing, agricultural activities and mechanical disturbances associated with KPO activities (laying trenches, pipelines, construction of facilities, roads, etc.).

The most disturbed communities are distributed near the field’s infrastructure and along the outskirts of roads.

The 2019 soil and vegetation cover monitoring data did not reveal any negative impact from air pollutant emissions associated with KPO’s production activities. The state of vegetation in the Karachaganak field can be described as satisfactory.

Essential species recorded within the Karachaganak Field

The main significant species registered within the KOGCF during the studies of 1990-2016 are shown in table below. All these species can also be found beyond the Karachaganak Field.

Species essential for the nature conservation recorded within the Karachaganak Field

No.

Species

IUCN category

The Kazakhstan Red Data

Book

Local rare species (in KOGCF)

Years of record

Flowering plants

1

Carnation andrzejowskianus (Dianthus andrzejowskianus)

KRDB II

2008, 2010, 2015, 2016

2

Woodland tulip
(Tulipa biebersteiniana)

KRDB III

2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016

3

Eastern pasqueflower (Pulsatilla patens)

KRDB II

2010, 2015, 2016

4

Fritillary
(Fritillaria ruthenica)

2010, 2013, 2015, 2016

5

Schrenck’s tulip
(Tulipa shrenkii)

KRDB III

2007, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016

6

Hairy adonis
(Adonis villosa)


KRDB II

2016

7

Spring adonis
(Adonis vernalis)


KRDB II

2016

8

Fischer’s star of Bethlehem
(Ornithogalum fischerianum)


KRDB III

2013, 2016

9

Snake’s head fritillary
(Fritillaria meleagris)


2016

Birds

10

Demoiselle crane (Anthropoides virgo)

KRDB V

1990, 1991, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016

12

The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo)

LC

KRDB II

1991

13

Imperial eagle
(Aquila heliaca)

VU

KRDB III

2002, 2003, 2010

14

European roller
(Coracias garrulous)

NT

2001, 2010

15

Lesser kestrel
(Falco naumanni)

LC

2004

16

Little bustard
(Tetrax tetrax)

NT

KRDB II

1990-1991, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010, 2015

17

Mute swan
(Cygnus olor)

LC

2003,2004, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2016

18

Osprey
(Pandion haliaetus)

LC

KRDB I

1990

19

Pale harrier
(Circus macrourus)

NT

2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

20

Red-footed falcon
(Falco vespertinus)

NT

2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016

21

Steppe eagle
(Aquila nipalensis)

LC

KRDB V

2002, 2008, 2010

22

White-tailed eagle
(Haliaeetus albicilla)

KRDB II

2004, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016

Mammals

23

Beaver
(Castor fiber)

2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016

Reptiles

24

Orsini’s viper
(Vipera ursini renardii)

VU

2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2016

Insects

25

Emperor dragonfly

KRDB

2010

26

Short-winged bolivaria (mantis)

KRDB

2010

The following categories are used in the table:

  • NT: Near Threatened — usually species whose populations are declining to the extent that they will soon qualify for a higher IUCN threat category. IUCM is the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
  • VU: Vulnerable — species that are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.
  • LC: Least concern — species evaluated against the IUCN criteria that do not qualify for Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category (species in this group are not included in the count of internationally rare species).
  • KRDB: Kazakhstan Red Data Book — species that are recognized as nationally rare in the Red Data Book of Kazakhstan, Roman numerals indicate the various rarity categories: Category I — the rarest species, and Category V — the least rare.

Ecosystems of the Karachaganak Field

The KOGCF main ecosystems can be divided into three large groups: agricultural, steppe, aquatic and coastal ecosystems. Whereby, the rest of the field area is man-made zones: roads, production facilities, and infrastructure.

Agricultural ecosystem

Agricultural and fallow lands are the dominant type of ecosystems at KOGCF and adjacent areas. This area includes the fields that are intensively cultivated for crops, and fallow fields.

Fallow lands are characterized by different stages of natural vegetation cover restoration, ranging from weed to wormwood and steppe communities. The forecast restoration period of natural steppe vegetation lasts about 25-30 years.

Steppe ecosystem

Steppes are one of two major ecosystems characterizing the natural state of the KOGCF territory (the second one is coastal ecosystems). At present, the distribution of steppe ecosystems varies considerably, and mainly, confined to the gullies and river valleys, i.e. areas remained unploughed.

Plant communities have a varied floristic set and provide a habitat for different wild animals. There is a significant diversity of ornithofauna, both permanently and temporarily inhabiting steppe ecosystems.

Due to the reduction of steppe ecosystems on an international scale, even small steppe areas found within the KOGCF are important for nature conservation.

Aquatic and coastal ecosystems

The KOGCF area is located in the basin of Berezovka river, which flows between the Ilek and Utva rivers.

The Konchubai gully is supplied with water from two main tributaries, the largest of which is the Kalminovka.

Coastal ecosystems are a habitat for a wide range of plant and animal species, including the rare ones.