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International Herald Tribune: Official: checks at Shell-led Sakhalin project may not lead to revoking of license

The Associated Press
Published: September 27, 2006
 
MOSCOW Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that the environmental checks being conducted at a Shell-led liquefied gas project off the far eastern island of Sakhalin will not necessarily lead to the revoking of its license.
 
“The checks that are being carried out by no means signify that the licenses for exploration as part of the Sakhalin-2 project will be revoked,” Lavrov said at an oil and gas forum on Sakhalin in televised remarks.
 
“The aim of the checks is solely to ensure that all sides abide by the terms of the agreement in good faith.”
 
Last week authorities announced that they would revoke a key environmental permit at Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s Sakhalin-2 project.
 
Observers interpreted the move as a means to pressure the company to secure better terms for state gas monopoly OAO Gazprom, which is seeking to join the project.
 
“The opinion of squeezing out foreign investors from the fuel and energy sector are groundless,” Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agencies.
 
Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said Tuesday that authorities will try to avoid shutting down the project, but insisted that it was riddled with environmental violations that needed to be addressed if the project is to be allowed to continue.
 
Igor Ignatyev, Sakhalin Energy’s vice president for corporate affairs, has warned that a decision to revoke the permit could lead to delays of 17 months and 15,000 redundancies.
 
The case comes amid pressure on a number of foreign-controlled energy projects that observers say is an attempt to secure a bigger role for Russian companies. 

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