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The Sakhalin Times: Governor Malakhov hails Sakhalin II project, toes Moscow’s line on environment

Sakhalin Governor Ivan Malakhov praised the Sakhalin II project in a meeting with British Government officials on November 17 but insisted that the project needs to follow the strictest environmental protection guidelines.

While speaking to the British Government’s Export Credits Guarantee Department Chief Executive Patrick Crawford, the governor emphasized the importance of the project to the Sakhalin Region and added that the most serious environmental requirements of the project “aren’t being totally fulfilled.” Mr Malakhov added that the Sakhalin Administration was paying significant attention to the environmental row involving the project and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources.

Patrick Crawford added that the British Government values “the biggest integrated project in the world” and claimed that despite the recent turmoil, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (the majority stakeholder) and the Russian Government have had an excellent working relationship throughout the course of the project. He also expressed hope that the model of cooperation between the Russian Government and Shell would set an example for future projects in Sakhalin. Governor Malakhov insisted that project operator Sakhalin Energy Investment Co. Ltd (Sakhalin Energy), needs to strictly follow Russian environmental legislations and ensure that its contractors also do so.

The British Delegation visited Sakhalin to inspect the latest developments surrounding the Sakhalin II project. The visit is close on the heels of a Russian Government Federation Council delegation’s visit on similar grounds.

Sakhalin Energy clarifies stand on Environmental Issues

In the wake of growing criticism from the Russian Government and environmentalists, Sakhalin Energy issued a statement clarifying its stand. According to a company press-release, Sakhalin Energy is disappointed at “what appears to be an unsubstantiated attack containing exaggerations and distortions of the facts regarding the Sakhalin II Project.”

Referring to statements in the media made by Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of state environmental watchdog, the Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources (Rosprirodnadzor), the statement claims that “many of the remarks do not even appear to be within Rosprirodnadzor’s environmental mandate.”

It adds: “Any criticism of the construction phase of the project should be seen in the context that environmental impacts are short-term and reversible.  While a project of this size and complexity will always face challenges in implementation, we believe that the degree of transparency and accountability demonstrated by Sakhalin II has set a benchmark for future projects.”

The statement also states that Sakhalin Energy takes the inspections of Rosprirodnadzor and other regulatory bodies seriously and has submitted an Environmental Action Plan to Natural Resources Minister, Yuri Trutnev, by November 8, as requested, in advance of receiving any results from the current Rosprirodnadzor inspections.

The full environmental action plan is likely to appear on Sakhalin Energy’s website ( The statement emphasizes that “the company and its shareholders remain committed to successful delivery” of the project.
Sakhalin Energy also denied reports that information regarding environmental hazards was knowingly withheld from regulators or shareholders.

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