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Reuters: EBRD to consult public on Sakhalin-2 gas loan

02 Feb 2006 16:57:08 GMT
Source: Reuters
LONDON, Feb 2 (Reuters) – The EBRD said on Thursday it will consult non-governmental organisations and the public in Russia, Japan and Britain before deciding whether to approve a loan for the environmentally controversial Sakhalin-2 gas project.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the main development bank for ex-communist countries of eastern Europe and the USSR, started a 120-day assessment period of the loan idea in December.
While the loan is expected to amount only to $200-$300 million, an EBRD stamp of approval could be key to unlocking further funding for the $20 billion Royal Dutch Shell-led project , which is dogged by fears it could hurt the habitat of the endangered Western Gray Whale.
The bank said in a statement that it was inviting all parties with an interest in the Sakhalin-2 project off Russia's Pacific coast to take part in a series of public meetings.
“The comments from the general public being solicited at these meetings will provide important input to determine if the project has adequately identified and mitigated environmental, safety and social impacts,” the EBRD said.
The meetings will be in London on February 28, Moscow on March 14, Sakhalin island on March 20, 23 and 24 and Sapporo, Japan in mid-April.
Representatives of government and local adminstrations, environmental groups and academics would be among those consulted during the public meetings, it added.
Sakhalin-2 is estimated to contain over four billion barrels of oil and gas equivalent of recoverable reserves and aims to produce liquefied natural gas to supply Asia's energy-hungry markets.
EBRD president Jean Lemierre said last month the decision could be delayed beyond the expected mid-April deadline because further consultations with shareholders could be needed.
The bank insisted on a longer consultation period than the usual 60 days because of the environmental sensitivity of the issue.

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