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MarketWatch: Environment experts convene new Sakhalin II whales panel

LONDON (MarketWatch) — The World Conservation Union, or IUCN, is convening a new scientific panel to monitor the impact of the Sakhalin II offshore oil and gas project on the endangered Western Gray Whale population, the organization said in a statement Monday.

The Russian Far Eastern project, led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN), has come under the spotlight recently after a Russian watchdog said it was withdrawing an environmental license because of alleged ecological violations.

The international, independent panel will provide ongoing impartial advice to companies developing oil and gas reserves in the whale’s summer feeding grounds, focusing on Sakhalin II.

It follows consultation with the oil industry after a previous report, also under the auspices of IUCN, said the route of a Sakhalin II pipeline was endangering the animals. The Shell-led project announced later it was following the report’s recommendations and agreed to change the route. But environmentalists have continued criticizing the impact of the project on whales.

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