Once the cold, foreboding Khanty-Mansiysk region is experiencing unprecedented wealth and development. Gas and oil explorations in the mid-1960’s have resulted in over 70 million barrels of black gold being pumped out of the former Russian frontier in the last 40 years. Tens of thousands of new jobs, combined with the steady flow of profits from oil revenues, has shifted day-to-day Siberian life into the fast lane.
Traditionally small, dark wooden houses are quickly being replaced by modern European-style apartment buildings and condos. Once rundown state-owned institutions have become privatized, and well-funded renovations of schools and medical facilities include such luxury amenities as heated indoor swimming pools and hydro massage therapy. State-of-the-art entertainment centers boast food courts, gambling casinos, high-end fashion boutiques and department stores stocking an array of international brands that rival western malls; expensive restaurants and all-night discos abound the new playgrounds for a growing demographic of youth with money.
While the majority of oil profits flow over into Moscow, the region’s local governments remain diligent about ensuring that oil and gas revenues benefit their remote areas, and they have largely succeeded. A new generation of Siberians is joining a global economy of consumers now used to a higher standard of living a lifestyle that ongoing oil production and international investment will hopefully sustain.