Daily Telegraph (UK): Shell Sakhalin pipeline faces blow over threatened whales: “A $12billion (£6.7billion) gas pipeline project in the frozen waters of Russia's Sakhalin Island, which is vital to one of Shell's largest investments, could be dealt a serious blow this week.” (ShellNews.net) 14 Feb 05
By Malcolm Moore (Filed: 14/02/2005)
A $12billion (£6.7billion) gas pipeline project in the frozen waters of Russia's Sakhalin Island, which is vital to one of Shell's largest investments, could be dealt a serious blow this week.
The proposed pipeline will cross the western grey whales' main feeding grounds. 'We have always taken the whales very seriously,' said a Shell spokesman
On Wednesday an independent investigation is expected to conclude that the route of the pipeline could threaten the 100 remaining western grey whales. The pipeline is scheduled to cross the main feeding grounds of the whales, which eat small organisms in the mud of the sea floor.
If the report, which has been commissioned by Shell and conducted by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), is critical of the pipeline it could give environmental groups more ammunition to attack the project's lending banks. Environmentalists have been quick to remind the financiers of the Sakhalin project that they would be held responsible for the extinction of the whales.
Last April Shell and its partners, which include ExxonMobil, decided to postpone the construction of pipelines until more research could be done on the whales. A spokesman for Shell said: "We have always taken the whales very seriously."
The IUCN has been critical of the oil companies in the past, and has published a manifesto stating that it is "greatly troubled that large oil companies have started major oil development projects in the waters". Since then, the Sakhalin consortium has done little to endear itself to the green lobby. Last September a tanker crashed, spilling around 190 tonnes of fuel oil and diesel into the waters around Sakhalin.
The World Wildlife Fund said: "This is a shot across the bow, which shows what is to come if oil extraction is allowed to go ahead in the area." Last week a Russian court cancelled the oil companies' environmental approval for part of the project.
There have also been protests by people in Sakhalin, who blocked the roads to highlight the possible destruction of the salmon fishing industry.