English translation from the official periodical of RAIPON “Мир коренных народов - живая арктика” (Indigenous Peoples’ World - Living Arctic) No. 17, 2005

Legislative regulation on Yamal’s natural resources (condensed)

S. Kharyuchi, President of RAIPON

The Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO) is a unique territory and a real storehouse of geological resources. During the long history of the Russian state thе Russian North has been a supplier of raw geological resources for the central part of the country. During the last decades Yamal has been one of the main donor regions. It covers an area of 750,000 square kilometers, which constitutes 4.5% of the Russian territory; its population is 502,000 (0.035% of the Russian population – the editor), but it provides 54% of the primary energetic resources of the country. The country is in need of natural resources, and the region in need of development. With an annual production exceeding 500 million tons, Yamal is the main gas supplier of Russia and may remain so during the 21st century. According to impartial estimates, more than 600 billion cubic meters of gas and 80-100 million tons of liquid hydrocarbons can be produced in Yamal per year.

In a long-term outlook on YNAO’s social and economic development five directions should become the bases for accelerated economic growth:

1) development of transportation infrastructure to facilitate industrial utilization of mineral resources in remote regions of the Okrug;

2) development and governmental support of lesser fuel- and energy-related enterprises to provide energy for exploiting fields with large hydrocarbon deposits, as well as fields with small or average resources;

3) accelerated industrial utilization of those hydrocarbon fields that may guarantee energy supply for the country during this century;

4) large-scale development of oil and gas refining facilities within the Okrug;

5) development of energy production in the Okrug to meet the needs of energy supply. It is of importance that the legislative background for the exploitation of geological resources is developed in the YNAO.

During ten years of systematic and constructive work by People’s Deputies hundreds of statutory and legislative acts regulating social and economic development of the YNAO have been developed and are currently in force. Realizing the uniqueness of the region and taking into account difficulties of fuel and energy development, one of the first laws passed within the YNAO was the law “On the georesources and their use in the YNAO”, which regulated relations connected with geological studies, utilization and preservation of geological resources in the okrug. After the Federal Law “On Georesources” was changed, a new edition of the law was prepared and passed, which provides protection of interests of both the extractive industry and the area’s inhabitants.

One of the main tasks of the YNAO government authorities is increase oil and gas production while also preserving the natural environment for the traditional management and use by indigenous peoples: oil and gas fields are at the same time the areas of the most productive reindeer pastures and fishing grounds.

To create the economic and social conditions for ensuring effective and sustainable natural resource utilization and management in the YNAO, serious work has been started to establish a legislative basis for the investigation, reproduction, rational utilization and preservation of natural resources, as well as preservation of the environment.

Several laws are related to the problems of land use, traditional nature management of Northern indigenous peoples, and conservation of natural resources. These are:

1) The YNAO Law “On specially preserved areas of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug” (1997), which regulates the organization, preservation, and utilization of specially preserved natural areas of particular scientific, cultural, esthetic, or recreational value, and guarantees protection of the legal rights and interests of Northern indigenous peoples, as well as preservation and development of their traditional lifestyle and occupations;

2) The YNAO Law “On fishery management in water bodies of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug” (1998) and the Law “On fishing in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug” (1998) protect fishing as a traditional occupation;

 3) The YNAO Law “On reindeer husbandry” (1998) determines legislative, economic, environmental and social fundamentals of reindeer husbandry as one of the most important livelihoods of indigenous peoples.;

4) The YNAO Law “On the territorial public self-government in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug” provides for the creation of ethnic communities with a special legal status.

The Programme of Source and Raw Material Development has been developed, approved, and is now in force. It provides stable earnings to the Okrug budget and facilitates the resolution of numerous social and economic problems.

Recent years have shown that if an enterprise fulfills its licence obligations this significantly improves its image among the Okrug inhabitants. Agreements between municipal agencies and fuel and energy companies are aimed at both supporting Northern indigenous peoples and preserving and developing the social, cultural and educational spheres of the Okrug settlements.


Before 1997 local authorities were empowered to licence extractional activities of common geological resources. At the end of 2003 some amendments were introduced to the YNAO Law “On the use of georesources for geological investigation, extraction of common resources, and building of underground installations of local significance”. Licensing has been attributed to the authority of the federal entity in agreement with local authorities. These amendments permit the development of plans for resource extraction and the formulation of uniform demands to companies concerning their accounting, land restoration, land leasing, and other terms.


The social and economic development of the Okrug is directly connected with the activity of oil- and gas-producing companies, the rational use of natural resources and the preservation of unique tundra environment. Abiding by the principle primum non nocere (“first, do no harm”) will prevent negative impacts of oil and gas production on traditional forms of nature use and management. Partnership agreements with large oil and gas companies will guarantee nature preservation, building of premises, for social and cultural institutions and growth of all branches of the Okrug economy, including the development of indigenous settlements.