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International Herald Tribune: Shell outlines environmental cleanup plan, paving way for reopening Argentine refinery

The Associated Press
Published: September 11, 2007

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: Royal Dutch Shell PLC has outlined a US$60 million (€43 million) cleanup plan to pave the way toward reopening a refinery that authorities closed last week because of pollution concerns, officials said Tuesday.

Environment Ministry regulators are taking steps to allow Shell to reopen the Buenos Aires refinery after the company addressed complaints cited in the plant’s closure, a ministry spokesman said. The spokesman, who could not be quoted by name, in line with agency policy, said the reopening of the refinery could come “within days.”

Shell spokesmen did not immediately respond to phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Authorities ordered the refinery shuttered last Wednesday, saying that pollution was found in soil samples and that the plant lacked permits and environmental impact studies.

Regulators accused the plant of drawing water from the nearby River Plate estuary without necessary permits, having deficient procedures for handling waste and lacking environmental impact studies.

The refinery in the Dock Sud district of southern Buenos Aires turns crude oil from Argentine fields into gasoline and diesel fuels for vehicles, and also processes jet fuel, lubricants, solvents and paving asphalt.

Shell supplies about 14 percent of the country’s service stations and some analysts raised the possibility of shortages if the shutdown continued indefinitely. Company executives said they used fuel from storage to meet demand at service stations nationwide.

Shell executives and the government of President Nestor Kirchner have feuded publicly in the past. Kirchner in March 2005 called on consumers to boycott Shell service stations when the company tried to hike prices that the government seeks to keep under control.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/09/11/business/LA-FIN-Argentina-Shell.php

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