Daily Telegraph: The Sakhalin Island indicator to oil prices: Protest forces Shell delay: “Sakhalin is already 100pc over budget at $20billion and contractors are demanding more and more cash. Given that one of them was found stabbed in his apartment last week, they probably deserve it.” Saturday 30 July 2005
Let us hope that the kamikaze whale that beached itself at Sakhalin Island yesterday was not a female. According to the World Wildlife Fund, if the remaining 23 female grey whales at Sakhalin die at the rate of "just one a year", the whole species will be extinct shortly.
The environmentalists blame Shell, which is trying to get at four billion barrels of oil and gas in the region, but it seems the whales are perfectly capable of self-immolation. For its part, Shell seems to have behaved with all the corporate social responsibility that might have been lacking if, say, Gazprom or the Russian government had been running the show.
Shell has rerouted its pipeline, even though the grey whale is hardly endangered. This branch of the family may number fewer than 100, but there are another 30,000 cousins on the other side of the Pacific. Shell also commissioned an environmental report from the World Conservation Union, which approved the project.
This has not been enough to calm the whale-huggers, who yesterday reached out to embrace the crabs, sole and krill in the area. They say these will be killed off by Shell's gas terminal on the south coast of Sakhalin, from where it intends to supply Japan and Korea.
A local court has ruled against Shell, and there will inevitably be more costs to bear if it has to dismantle its loading jetty to save the crabs. Sakhalin is already 100pc over budget at $20billion and contractors are demanding more and more cash. Given that one of them was found stabbed in his apartment last week, they probably deserve it.
This may well be part of the modern oil business, as it scours the world's least pleasant places to keep the family runabout on the road, but Sakhalin is nevertheless becoming a good illustration of why oil prices are likely to remain high for a good while yet.
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