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Dow Jones Newswires: Sakhalin Protesters Switch Focus To BP, Exxon In Sep -NGO

EXTRACT: Limiting environmental damage is critical for Sakhalin II as it seeks about $500 million in loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A spokesman for the bank reiterated Tuesday that a decision on whether or not to back Sakhalin II is due in September.

THE ARTICLE 

17 August 2006  
 
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The indigenous people of Russia’s Sakhalin Island are to target ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) and BP PLC (BP) in protests next month, diverting their attention away from Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN), the leader of lobby group Sakhalin Environment Watch said this week.

In an e-mail, Dmitry Lisitsyn, who heads the group, didn’t explain why it had opted to target ExxonMobil and BP. He couldn’t be contacted by telephone.

The planned protests, including the blockage of a road used by ExxonMobil, will ta
ke place on the side of an oil and gas conference due on the island Sept. 27-28.

ExxonMobil operates an integrated oil project in the north of the island and BP is in an oil exploration and production venture with Rosneft (RNT.YY).

Many local inhabitants have criticized the impact on their livelihoods, such as fishing, from multibillion dollar oil and gas projects underway offshore the island in Russia’s far east.

Campaigners have previously focused on the Shell-led consortium running the huge integrated oil and gas project Sakhalin II. But Lisitsyn said there had been good progress with its partners, which are to contribute $300,000 a year for the cultural and economic development of Sakhalin’s indigenous population. Still, the agreed contribution “is a good idea, but the implementation is very bad til now,” he said.

Limiting environmental damage is critical for Sakhalin II as it seeks about $500 million in loans from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. A spokesman for the bank reiterated Tuesday that a decision on whether or not to back Sakhalin II is due in September.

Turning the spotlight on the corporate responsibility of BP would be unwelcome news for the London-based energy giant. Many things have gone wrong for the company over the past 16 months. Its Texas City refinery exploded in March 2005, killing 15 workers, injuring 170 and spawning a series of government investigations questioning BP’s environmental risk management practices.

One of its pipelines on Alaska’s North Slope sprung a leak in March due to corrosion, spilling over 200,000 gallons of crude oil, the largest amount ever, onto the Alaskan tundra. Then last week the company shut down over half of its production from the Alaskan Prudhoe Bay field after discovering severe corrosion in large stretches of its pipeline network.

-By Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones Newswires; 44 20 7842 9266; [email protected]

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