Authorities in the Komi region in the north of Russia have declared a regional emergency after oil spilled into the Kolva river, a major water artery in the neighboring hydrocarbons-producing Nenets region.


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A regional subsidiary of Russian oil producer Lukoil said the accident occurred at a crossing between the river and a pipeline carrying oil from the Kharyaga field.

According to the company's estimate, only a small number of barrels of oil spilled into the river. However, according to accounts on a Russian social network, oil was spotted on the water surface some 40 kilometres downstream from where the spillage occured.

The regional department of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said that four rows of containment booms have been installed at the Kolva river since the accident was publicly revealed on 17 October.

Preparations to put in a fifth row of booms are ongoing, the department said.

The Kolva river starts in the Nenets region and flows into the Usa river that in turn flows into the Pechora river in the Komi region. Via Pechora, the spilled oil could potentially reach the Barents Sea.

The emergency measure applies mainly to the city of Usinsk, which is home to about 37,000 people, and whose water supply system is based on the Usa river.

Lukoil-Komi is the operator of the Kharyaga oilfield, which is one of the largest deposits in the Nenets region, however, part of the field is being developed by a consortium of Russian state Zarubezhneft and France’s Total.