The Apsheron Ecological Zone
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According to its orography and climatic  landscape characteristics, the Apsheron ecological zone is included among the regions of the Greater Caucasus, representing its southeastern province. The specific nature of the Apsheron relief is mainly associated with the existence of the immersion of the Greater Caucasus folds, which resulted in the lowering of relief and the formation of folds, deviating from the main course of the Caucasus folds. The zone includes the Apsheron Peninsula and adjacent archipelagoes of the Apsheron and partially Baku’s Islands, as well as the southern part of Gobustan. The western part, including Gobustan, is of foothill character with rather high plateaus and ridgei, the highest of which is up to 340  350 m (Yunus  dag, Koun and others). In the northern part of the peninsula the surface is of a wavy chariicter”with main hills turning into plain areai of salines and salinas (saltlakes) with cones of mud vol  canoei. In the southwestern part of the penin.iula relatively high synclinal plateaus are observed, cut through by ledges. Examples are the Guzdek, Baku and other plateaus. Among the valleys the most significiant are the Yasamal and Kobiy. In this part of the peninsula there are many mud volcanoes.

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The zone is distinguished by an arid suhtropical clim;ite and strong north winds (khazri). The average annual temperature is +14.2 oC, with +3.4 oC in January and +25.5oC in July. The annual rainfall is about 220 mm. The peninsula soil is of grey soil character; poor vegetation consists of typical semi  desert (worm  wood and salsola) repreientatives and ephemeral plants. In autumn and winter the coastal area of Apsheron bccomes the resting point for migrating birds. On the islands of the Apsheron Archipelago there are rookeries of seals. The northern coast is famous for its recreational resources, orchards and viney.irds. Rare cropi, such ai saffron and olives, which are very valuable due to their properties, also figs and grapes, are cultured on the Apsheron. Vegetable  growing and cattle  breeding are developed as well. Farming is irrigated by water from the Samur  Divichi irrigation channel.

The most notable feature of the peninsula is the availability of numerous oil and gas fields. Among the oil  rich regions of the world the Apsheron region has its own unique place. Oil production in this region has a long history. However, the information about the amount of oil production has only been available since 1821. For the

The Apsheron recreation area. (photo - State Committee for the Environment)

period of 1821  1872 the total amount of production was 319.6 thousand tones of oil. Since 1873 the production volume increased reaching a maximum of 11 million tones in 1901.

Oil fields of the Apsheron peninsula are mostly associated with the so  called productive strata (Pliocene). The capacity of the productive strata on Apsheron reaches 2000 m and is divided into three parts (sections): upper, middle and lower sections, which are subdivided into suites and oil  bearing layers.

Because of the long period of oil production, the industrial development of the Apsheron zone wai oriented to meet the requirements of the oil industry.

At present, more than 70% of the industrial potential of Azerbaijan, is concentrated in the Apsheron Peninsula, mostly in two big cities  Baku and Sumgait. Baku is a center of oil refining and the oil engineering industry, Sumgait is a center of petrochemistry, chemistry and metallurgy. According to a survey of the ecological situation, the whole territory of the Apsheron Peninsula falls into the category of a territory with acute ecological problems. Thus, an estimation of the ecological situation shows extremely low indices of reproductive capacity of the territory: O.S million tons/year in oxygen reproduction, with the index equal to 0.04; 10.S million m3 in water resources, that gives the index of demographic capacity of water resources equal to 54 (the lowest in the Republic). The low reproductivity of the territory is in contrast to the large population (more than 40% of the population  approximately 2.8 million people live in this region) and high consumption (the electric energy consumption index is very high  more than 350 thousand KWatt  hour/year) which have an impact on and further aggravate the ecological problems. Based on the analyses the Apsheron ecological zone is regarded as an area with acute ecological problems.

At present more than 80 big, 370 medium  size and 2000 small industrial enterprises are concentrated on the territory of the Apsheron zone. The concentration of such a number of enterprises within a limited territory has a historic prerequisite.

The start of industrial oil production required the development of oil equipment manufacturing and preliminary oil processing plants. A thermal power station which is one of the biggest in the world was put into operation in Apsheron. Also an electric railway was construct.ed for the first time in the world and this connected

 major oil fields with plants. The oil engineering induitry of Azerbaijan represents the biggest concentration of such enterprises in the world after the USA.

Oil production stimulated the development of oil refining and oil chemistry industries. The equipment used at oil refineries is generally old and worn  out, especially at the ”Azeneftyag” enterprise, which started its operation about 120 years ago, and most of the equipment is out  of  date. The Novobakinski plant, which is smaller in size, has equipment made in the mid  1960’s, but still is out  of  date. A significant volume of oil refinery products, crude oil and natural gas are used as raw materials in the petrochemical and chemical industries of the Republic, which are concentrated in Sumgait. It is necessary to note that the majority of industrial enterprises operated without treatment facilit.ies, and the availahle facilities were enough to meet nnly 50% of the demand.

The Sumgait industrial center was formed in late 1950’s as a center for the chemical and petrochemical industries, and today it is the most saturated, by ecologically hazardous production standards, part of the Republic. Sumgait occupies 9495 hectares, of which 33.7%

View of the coastal area of Baku (photo by F.Mammedov)

is an industrial aren, 21.5% a living area, 4.3% collective green areas, and 30.6% orchards and kitchen  gardens. The area of green plantations is 946.96 hectares, that makes up only 34 m2 per capita, which is far below the existing sanitary norms. Discharges into the atmosphere and water reservoirs during 1980  1990 resulted in high contamination of the environment, therefore the State Committee for the Environment declared Sumgait to be a zone of ecological disaster in 1992. In order to improve the ecological situation more than 1 billion manats was additionally allocated for the reconstruction of treatment facilities. These measures caused a reduction in the discharges of contaminating substances by almost 12%. Beginning from 1990 industrial production in the Sumgait industrial region started to decrease, caused by economic decline and the disruption of relations with former Republics of the USSR, which contributed to the decrease of discharges into the environment by 2  3 times as compared with 1988  1989. The initiative of Mr. Heydar Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan on the establishment of a Free Economic Zone in the Sumgait industrial region will attract modern ecologically safe technologies and finally solve the environmental problems.

In 1995, industrial and municipal bodies of Sumgait used 152.6 million m3 of water, of which: 74.9 million m3 was technical water from the Jeyranbatan reservoir; 11.9 million m3 was drinking water from the Shollar water supply system; 69.8 million m3 water from the Caspian (saline). The total amount of water used by the industry for technical purposes was 96.6 million m3 per year. The discharge of used water constituted 107.8 million m3: 95.8 million m3 by industry; and 12.8 million m3 by municipal services. Of them 32.8 million m3 was treated, 60.0 million m3 was nominally pure; and 2.2 million m3 of industrial sewage and 12.8 m3 of domestic sewage were discharged untreated. It should be noted, that major industrial enterprises use 15  20% of their capacity due to economic decline, which resulted in a considerable reduction in the discharge amount. Thus, in comparison with 1990 the amount of discharge was reduced by almost 5 times.

Water consumption by the industrial, municipal and agricultural enterprises of Baku reaches 900 million m3/year. Water is supplied from the Kura river by two lines of Kura water supply system (with a project capacity of 11.92 m3/s), which starts near Sabirabad city (Smaller Talysh village); and through two lines of the Shollar water supply system (108 thousand m3/day and 232 thousand m3/day) from the Shollar group of springs of the Kuba  Khachmas region of the Republic. For technical needs waier is supplied from the Jeyranbotan water reservoir, fed by the Samur  Divichi channel, in the volume of 1,106.9 m3/year. About 162 million m3 are used from underground sources and 150 million m3 from the sea. From this amount 218 million m3 are used for domestic purposes and drinking; 211 million m3  for industrial purposes, and 8 million ms  for irrigation. The losses constitute 67 million m3.

The industrial enterprises of the city have an enclosed system of water supply with a total volume of used water of 512 million m3, and 153 million m3 of water being reused for technological purposes.

There are more than 20 inland water reservoirs at the Apsheron peninsula, some of which are natural lakes and the major part is of artificial origin, mainly associated with oil and gas field development on the Apsheron. Industrial development and an increase in population on the Apshe

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