Russia to probe Shell another month

Russia has prolonged an environmental inspection of Royal Dutch Shell’s USD 22 billion Sakhalin-2 project and the oil and gas scheme could face prosecution, the natural resources minister said on 24 October 2006. “The breaches at Sakhalin-2 fall under five articles of the criminal code,” Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said at a meeting with environmental inspectors and officials from Sakhalin Energy, the Sakhalin-2 operating company. “This falls under criminal law and we think it’s necessary to apply it. All the relevant documents should be sent to the Prosecutor General within two weeks.” He said inspectors’ investigation of the vast project on the island of Sakhalin in Russia’s Far East would last for a further month. Analysts have said the agency’s activities are designed to put pressure on Sakhalin-2 and increase Kremlin control over Russia’s energy sector. Trutnev cited illegal felling of trees as one of the violations. Ian Craig, CE of Sakhalin Energy, majority owned by Shell, said the firm was committed to resolving any breaches. There was no comment from Shell. Inspectors from Russia’s environmental watchdog RosPrirodNadzor had been expected to unveil a slew of new alleged environmental violations at the meeting, but they said they needed another month, which Trutnev granted. Dmitry Belanovich, acting head of RosPrirodNadzor environmental agency on Sakhalin Island, said the project’s execution had changed so much since the agreed feasibility study that it was hard to draw definite conclusions and more study was needed.
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