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International Herald Tribune: Russian foreign minister defends environmental probes at Shell’s Sakhalin-2 project

The Associated Press: Published: October 3, 2006
MOSCOW Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday defended environmental probes of several major oil and gas developments, including a Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led project on Russia’s Far-Eastern Sakhalin Island.

Observers have said the investigations are aimed at securing a better role for state companies as the Kremlin increases its control of the sector.
The US$20 billion (€16 billion) Sakhalin-2 development, led by Shell, is being investigated for ecological violations and could be forced to stop. The Natural Resources Ministry’s sudden announcement that it was pulling a key environmental permit rattled investors and triggered criticism from Western governments.
At the same time, prosecutors have warned that they could seek to pull an agreement held by BP PLC’s local joint venture at another natural gas project in the Far East over environmental and licensing concerns.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday insisted that Russia was keeping to its international obligations by conducting the checks. “You have surely noticed that recently in Russia, environmental control on the part of the state and society has been strengthening as regards a series of big energy projects, including Sakhalin,” he said at a news conference Tuesday.
The authorities’ attention at Sakhalin-2 and the BP project at the Kovykta natural gas field has been seen as an attempt to secure better conditions for Russia’s state natural gas monopoly OAO Gazprom, which is in talks to join the projects.
Last week Lavrov said he expected the situation at Sakhalin-2 would be resolved through dialogue. The Natural Resources Ministry has given the operating company Sakhalin Energy until Oct. 25 to agree how to tackle numerous allegations of environmental violations.
TNK-BP Chief Executive Robert Dudley said Tuesday that he expected to reach a “compromise” over environmental and licensing problems raised by prosecutors last week. and its sister non-profit websites,,,,,, and are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia feature.

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