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hemscott.com: Russian minister criticises Shell’s Sakhalin project, environmetal regulators

MOSCOW (AFX) – Russian Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev lashed out at the Royal Dutch Shell-run Sakhalin Energy consortium over environmental violations, saying it showed the state’s ‘complete loss’ of regulatory control.

Trutnev also called for the head of Rosprirodnadzor, the country’s chief environmental watchdog, to be punished for conducting too few inspections.

Botched reforms and poor coordination among environmental monitoring agencies have ‘effectively led to a complete loss of environmental control and surveillance’ on the part of the state, Trutnev said at a news conference.

‘As a result we run into examples such as the massive violations of environmental law during the development of the Sakhalin-2 project,’ the minister said, referring to the 22 bln usd oil and gas project off Russia’s Pacific coast run by Sakhalin Energy.

Sakhalin Energy has been the chief target of a months-long environmental crackdown on oil and gas companies that has rattled investors and drawn outcry from foreign officials.

Though domestic companies have also been threatened with removal of their licences, pressure has been highest on foreign controlled Sakhalin-2, in which analysts say the Russian state is eager to gain a stake.

Shell owns a 55 pct stake in Sakhalin Energy, while Mitsui and Mitsubishi hold 25 pct and 20 pct respectively.

Trutnev also took aim at the country’s top environmental watchdog, saying: ‘I intend to present a proposal to the government on disciplinary action for Rosprirodnadzor head Sergei Sai’ for conducting too few checks on energy companies.

Crusading Rosprirodnadzor deputy head Oleg Mitvol, who is far more visible and outspoken than Sai, told Echo of Moscow radio that complaints about Sai were ‘absolutely justified.’

Trutnev said that 2006 environmental checks by various agencies had uncovered 13,000 violations of environmental law by oil and gas companies, adding that ‘in the last three years the total amount of waste products from the fuel-energy complex has risen by nearly 20 percent’.

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