In a move likely to discredit ISO’s latter-day push to support “climate action,” the ISO Technical Committee responsible for oil and gas standards has appointed an executive from Gazprom to chair its “arctic operations” subcommittee.

Sergei Baranov is Head of the Directorate for Icebreaker Support and Navigation Safety for Gazprom Neft PJSC, a company specifically named in EU sanctions after the invasion of Ukraine by the Putin regime of Russia. In an official document numbered N2131, ISO announced that Baranov has been officially appointed Chair of ISO TC 67 Subcommittee 8.

The overall TC 67 committee is Chaired by Philip Smedley, a structural engineer with BP Oil.

Since the invasion of Ukraine, most organizations have withdrawn support of Russia, which is increasingly seen as a terrorist state; Putin himself has been branded a war criminal by the International Criminal Court, and faces arrest the moment he enters any ICC member nation. ISO, however, has refused to address the controversies over Russia and continues to allow the country to participate in key standards committees, including those for aerospace and defense.

Gazprom is a state-owned enterprise that provides a huge portion of the revenue used to prop up the Putin regime and its military incursions in the region and elsewhere. The company is also listed as the world’s second-biggest producer of CO2 gases, and Baranov’s appointment would now give the company unprecedented control over the development of standards directly connected to environmental concerns.

Sergio Mujica (l), Sergei Baranov (r)

ISO and its Secretary-General, Sergio Mujica of Chile, have repositioned the standards body as one tied in lockstep with the United Nations’
“Sustainable Development Goals,” or SDGs. Of these, Mujica has directed ISO to specifically focus on the SDG called “climate action,” and is pressing all ISO technical committees to include language on climate change in their standards.

The move by Mujica is understood to be a political one, as Mujica reportedly has eyes on running for UN Secretary-General in 2026. But the appointment of one of the world’s largest polluters — which, itself, is used to support a criminal invasion denounced by much of the developed world — to a committee directly impacting on environmental matters stands to debunk ISO’s “climate action” initiatives entirely.

The ISO certification scheme actors have likewise avoided denouncing Gazprom, which holds various ISO certificates accredited by a number of IAF member bodies. While the IAF issued a mandate to cease all accreditation activities in Russia, in order to comply with EU regulations, it has not enforced the measure. Accredia, the Italian body led by IAF Chair Emanuele Riva, continues to operate in Russia, in defiance of both EU law and his own IAF own mandate. Gazprom currently holds ISO certificates accredited by Russian Register, which has been isolated by the IAF, but previously held certificates accredited by the US accreditation body ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB.)  ANAB ignored international sanctions against Gazprom for nearly a decade, until the IAF mandate to cease operations in Russia.

Now, ANAB’s parent, ANSI, faces new challenges to see whether it will support ISO’s decision to elevate a Gazprom executive to a key role in an oil and gas standard likely to directly impact the United States. Baranov will oversee the development of, at present, six different ISO standards, including ISO 35103 on “environmental monitoring” of arctic operations. Baranov can now steer that activity to benefit Russia, while making activities more difficult for the United States.

Oxebridge has called on ANSI to stop all US Technical Advisory Group (TAG) activities within ISO until the standards body reverses the appointment of Baranov. Oxebridge has also reached out to the US House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, and the office of Senator Marco Rubio, asking to apply pressure on ANSI to abide by this demand.

Because of its prior ties to Gazprom, through its daughter organization ANAB, it is not expected that ANSI will take action.

UPDATE 3 May 2023: Philip Smedley reached out to Oxebridge to say that Baranov has not yet been granted the SC8 Chair position, and that the balloting is still underway, with that scheduled to be completed in May. Smedley indicated that Russia currently holds the Secretariat position for SC8, so gets first chance to nominate a Chair, but that the SC has been “dormant” for months without activity. He insists that the appointment of Baranov is not yet a final result.

The issue comes from the fact that ISO released the announcement under a file name titled “Appointment of new SC 8 Chair_Mr S. Baranov” which indicates that Baranov was already appointed. Smedley — who did not write the announcement — was also confused by this wording. That announcement would have come from the Russian secretary, Andrey Tsunevskiy.

This article will be updated when the matter is cleared up.

UPDATE 5 June 2023: ISO has released the final vote, and Baranov has been confirmed. ANSI refused to vote against Baranov, praising him personally in their comments, and then only voting to abstain. Read more here.


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