Gazprom, the Russian oil company that claimed the Arctic 30 carried something “resembling a bomb”, are not famous for safety. However, their news site claims that they have implemented “permanent” emergency vessels to deal with an Arctic disaster:
"Near the Platform two multifunctional icebreaking vessels:"Vladislav Strizhov" and "Yury Topchev" are on permanent emergence duty. The vessels are equipped with state-of-the-art complexes of the emergency oil-gathering equipment. [sic]" (source)
But right now, there is no dedicated icebreaker whatsoever around Gazprom’s decrepit oil rig, the Prirazlomnaya (pictured).
Oil spill expert from the University of Southampton, Simon Boxallsaid that exploring the Arctic for oil was inherently dangerous. Boxall was a leading marine scientist who played a key role in analysis of BP's Deepwater Horizon
"It is inevitable you will get a spill – a dead cert. I would expect to see a major spill in the not too distant future. I would be astonished if you did not see a major spill from this." (source)
That means the “state-of-the-art complexes of the emergency oil-gathering equipment" are 2 days away from dealing with an oil spill emergency in the fragile Arctic. Despite being “on permanent emergence [sic] duty” they seem to be taking a break from protecting the Arctic, despite the risks posed by Gazprom’s (and their partner, Shell’s,) Arctic oil drilling plans.
Ship number 1: The Vladislav Strizhov, left the rig on Saturday evening (Nov 16) to go back to Murmansk. When berthed in that port the sailing time back again would be nearly 2 days (between 42 and 43 hours to cross 1,023 kms at an average of 13 knots).
Ship number 2: The Yury Topchev, left the rig on Wednesday evening (Nov 11) and has just left the port of Archangelsk a few hours ago. The voyage would take about 2 days of sailing time (or between 47 and 48 hours to cross 1,136 kms at an average of 13 knots).
And if that doesn’t scare you, have you seen the footage we found surrounding their ancient rig?
And not an emergency vessel in sight...
Updated November 19 to include comments made by Simon Boxall, an oil spill expert from the University of Southampton.
Updated November 29 with revised travel time based on more accurate distances.