The Observer (UK): Endangered whales put Shell pipeline at risk: “A $12 billion gas pipeline project in Russia's Far East, crucial to the long-term finances of Royal Dutch Shell, is likely to be seriously jeopardised this week.” (ShellNews.net) 13 Feb 05
Sunday February 13, 2005
A $12 billion gas pipeline project in Russia's Far East, crucial to the long-term finances of Royal Dutch Shell, is likely to be seriously jeopardised this week.
On Wednesday an environmental investigation is expected to conclude that the pipeline route will harm the last remaining western Pacific grey whales.
The report, by the respected World Conservation Union, is significant because it was commissioned by Shell and will be relied on by international banks deciding whether to lend finance to the project, called Sakhalin-2 .
This weekend, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said that if the report showed the whales' survival was threatened - there are just 100 left - it would be a 'showstopper', and it would withhold funds from the world's third-largest project finance scheme. Although the EBRD's contribution is a fraction of the $12bn cost of the project, its loans lever in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Sources close to the 14-strong panel of renowned environmentalists say their findings express 'concern' that the route of the pipeline, which goes through the whales' feeding grounds, will threaten their survival, and more data from Shell is needed.
The Sakhalin-2 project would take gas from Siberia to Japan and on to Asia. With oil and gas reserves being depleted, Shell is hoping Sakhalin will contribute more than 200,000 barrels per day of additional output. The Anglo-Dutch firm believes Sakhalin will reinforce its position as world leader in liquefied natural gas.
James Leaton of WWF said: 'WWF does not believe Shell can guarantee that its activities will not put the whales at risk. If the panel concludes that there are ongoing risks, EBRD should not consider the project any further.'