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The Voice of Russia: RUSSIA SAYS THERE’S NO NEED TO POLITICIZE THE SITUATION

09/25/2006

Russia is strongly opposed to any politicization of economic issues that emerged during the implementation by foreign companies of the oil-and-gas project on Sakhalin Island, as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. He confirmed that Russia remained committed to its obligations and urged his country’s foreign partners to strictly observe the earlier reached agreements.

He said as much ahead of his participation in the international conference, “Oil and Gas from Sakhalin”, that will take place on Sakhalin Island from September 27th to 28th.

Taking part will be more than 300 heads of oil and gas companies from Europe, the United States, China, Japan, and other Asian countries, and also from Africa and Latin America. There’s a great interest in the world in the development of the Sakhalin oil and gas resources. Sakhalin Island is the main supplier of oil and gas to the countries of the Pacific Rim. A liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant is being built on Sakhalin Island now. There are plans to put it into operation in 2008. The energy companies in Japan, the United States and South Korea have already bought Russia’s natural gas for 20 years ahead.

The Sakhalin shelf deposits, where the natural gas is extracted, are developed by the foreign companies’ consortium. In the meantime, the operators of the “Sakhalin-2” project have backtracked on many of their obligations which guarantee ecological security.

This has forced Russia to temporarily suspend the works, which those in the West have assessed as a political gesture.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says: When the British Petroleum (BP) pipelines in Alaska all of a sudden broke down and an emergency situation emerged there, the gross violations of ecological standards became immediately visible. So what followed was the suspension of the BP work in Alaska, which aroused no suspicions at all.

I think similar conclusions should be made while assessing the situation around the “Sakhalin-2” project, Russia’s minister said. Russia has registered more than 30 violations the foreign companies made. And one more thing. Some time ago they nearly doubled the initial cost of the “Sakhalin-2” project. Russia has certain doubts on that score – there are no sufficient reasons for this, it says.

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