Enivornmental concerns could halt Shell oil project

Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Moscow, Russia
Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources announced it has revoked its environmental certification of the second phase of Sakhalin-2, a US$20-billion off-shore oil exploration project, citing numerous infractions of environmental requirements. The news was applauded today by Rosprirodnadzor (Russian Federal Service for Environmental Protection and Enforcement), conservationists with IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – www.ifaw.org) and other world renowned NGOs at a Moscow news conference. The recall of the ministry’s State Expert Environmental Review (SEER) threatens to force the halt of the project.
Sakhalin-2 is a jointly owned project of Royal Dutch Shell (55%), Japan’s Mitsui & Co. Ltd. (25%) and the Mitsubishi Corporation (20%). Sakahlin-2 currently produces over 70,000 barrels a day of oil, and with planned expansions is expected to more than double this. Expansion of the project is also set to include the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant capable of producing 9.6 million metric tons per year – making it the largest plant of its kind in the world.
 
IFAW, together with other leading non-profit groups, has campaigned against the Sakhalin off-shore oil and gas exploration and extraction project for more than five years, citing the negative impact it has on one of the last known feeding grounds of the highly endangered Western Pacific gray whale. Over this period, IFAW experts have worked with Russian government officials and oil industry representatives to develop plans that would mitigate the effects of noise pollution, shipping traffic, and oil spills on this population of gray whales – of which fewer than 100 individuals are thought to exist. The project also threatens the salmon spawning rivers and the unique environment of Aniva Bay off the southern coast of Sakhalin.
 
IFAW remains committed to working with Russia’s Rosprirodnadzor agency and Ministry of Natural Resources to ensure that any fuel exploration activities are carried out within the law, meet environmental standards, and include consultation with conservation groups such as IFAW.
 
“The Sakhalin Energy Investment Company may have been given permission to extract oil and gas in Russia, but not to ruin the Russian environment” said Rosprirodnadzor deputy chief Mitvol.
 
“We support the ministry’s decision to revoke its environmental certification of Sakhalin,” said IFAW Russia Director Masha Vorontsova, “and we hope this sends a strong signal that these types of industrial projects will be held accountable for the damage they cause to the environment and the wildlife that inhabits it, no matter which company does it, whether Shell or any other one.”

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Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
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