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Guardian Weekly (UK): Shell moves Sakhalin pipeline but protests continue: “Shell is facing yet more environmental protests over its controversial $12bn oil and gas pipeline off the east coast of Russia.” ( 15 April 05


Nick Mathiason


Shell is facing yet more environmental protests over its controversial $12bn oil and gas pipeline off the east coast of Russia.


Last month the oil giant caved into campaigners' pressure and moved the route of its Sakhalin pipeline to protect the feeding ground of a near-extinct breed of grey whales.


But as that decision was announced, Sakhalin islanders discovered a huge amount of debris that appeared to have been dumped by sub-contractors in a shallow bay crucial to the island's vital fishing industry. Shell last week organised a dive to find out how the mountain of debris came to be dumped there.


The decision to move the pipeline was hailed as a victory by campaigners, but they remain concerned that an offshore production platform is still too close to the whales' feeding ground.


James Leaton, the World Wildlife Fund's extractive industries policy officer, said: "Shell has recognised there were flaws in their original design, which takes courage. However, location alternatives have only been considered for the offshore pipeline, not for the platform. The majority of the whale panel's concerns remain outstanding regarding location, oil spill response, ship-whale collisions, sedimentation, noise and cumulative impacts."


Green activists are still urging Britain's export credits guarantee department and other lenders to ditch the scheme. Public institutions are being asked to put up $5bn for the project, which has been hit by rising costs.


"The UK taxpayer could end up subsidising this project, if loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Export Credit Guarantee Department go ahead," said an oil campaigner for Friends of the Earth.


"Gordon Brown, as a governor of the EBRD, should use his influence to stop this loan to the oil industry. Without it, this environmentally damaging project might not go ahead."


The Sakhalin-2 project will generate $45bn worth of oil and liquefied natural gas and is vital for the future of the embattled firm.


Sakhalin Energy's chief executive, Ian Craig, said whale experts would be invited to oversee revised plans for the project and that the company had been open and transparent in all its dealings, having spent millions researching the behaviour of the western grey whale to minimise any impact on its survival.


The Observer was first to reveal how Shell's pipeline threatened the whales with extinction in January last year.


Meanwhile Shell has reiterated that it is holding talks with a number of companies eager to enter into the Sakhalin consortium. The Observer,,1459356,00.html


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