Russia's Long-Distance Commuters in the Oil and Gas Industry: Social Mobility and Current Developments - an Ethnographic Perspective from the Republic of Bashkortostan


  • Elisabeth Öfner (Oefner) University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research


Long-distance commuting (LDC) to the oil and gas fields in the Russian north has become a visible social development in today's Russia. This sector provides people in rural communities with employment, high salaries, and the opportunity to increase their social mobility. In the Republic of Bashkortostan, both oil extraction, as well as LDC to Western Siberia, have a long tradition. A recent development, however, is that increasing numbers of people from rural villages without such ties to oil extraction are now entering the oil and gas sector. This article provides examples of why these people are commuting and what is behind this turn of events. Besides economics, both local developments as well as developments within the oil and gas sector (the most thriving industrial sector in Russia) are contributing factors. People from rural regions see employment in this wealthy sector as a chance to better themselves. Even though some working conditions have been condemned as inhumane, the sector is able to provide a wide variety of employment possibilities. The oil and gas sector is seen as the most stable and most profitable sector in Russia from a local perspective. Keywords: LDC, oil and gas industry, rural Russia, Republic of Bashkortostan, social mobility

Author Biography

Elisabeth Öfner (Oefner), University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research

Social Anthropologist, scientific collaborator with the Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Austria: project Lives on the Move: Vakhtoviki in North-Western Siberia under the project leader Prof. Dr. Heinz Fassmann; funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) [P22066].