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The Values of Russian Oil: On Soviet and Post-Soviet Oil Workers’ Attitudes Toward the Fatherland’s Oil Industry in the Russian Arctic | Engaging Resources
New Anthropological Perspectives on Natural Resource Environments

The Values of Russian Oil: On Soviet and Post-Soviet Oil Workers’ Attitudes Toward the Fatherland’s Oil Industry in the Russian Arctic

Remy Rouillard, McGill University

This paper presents results drawn from 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the oil-rich Nenets Autonomous District, in northwestern Russia, that I conducted between 2008 and 2010. During my research, I spent time at two different oil extraction sites: on the island of Kolguev where oil has been extracted since the Soviet period by a state-owned company; and in the Bolshezemelskaya tundra at one site operated since 2006 by Naryanmarneftegas, a private joint-venture company created by Lukoil and ConocoPhillips. The paper will compare the ways in which the oil workers operating these two extraction sites view the Russian oil industry, the role the industry plays in relation to the Russian state, as well as their perception of the ways in which the industry benefits or affects the Russian population, the district’s inhabitants, and especially the indigenous Nenets.