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Prince Andrew Shell Connections: UK Royal visits project linked to death of whales


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The Western Grey Whale population off Sakhalin Island is under threat by a the proposed construction of a series of oil pipelines, to be built by Shell and financed by a number of UK financial institutions. image: Sakhalin Environment Watch 

friends of the earth international: uk royal visits project linked to death of whales


Prince Andrew, a senior member of the British royal family, may provoke international criticism this week when he visits an oil project which threatens to lead to the extinction of the Western Pacific grey whale, damage environments and destroy fisheries.

The Duke of York is due to visit Russia during the week of April 27 on behalf of the British Government to promote investment in a controversial project led by Shell to exploit the huge oil and gas reserves on the island of Sakhalin, in Russia’s Far East . The project threatens the last remaining population of Western Pacific grey whale around Sakhalin Island.

Only 100 Western Pacific Grey Whales remain – and environmental organisations, including Friends of the Earth, along with campaigners from in the UK, Russia and Japan, have written to Prince Andrew to highlight their concerns and ask him to use his visit to ensure that Shell improves the project design and guarantees protection of species and local communities.

Several members of the Royal family have previously been noted for their positive environmental work — Prince Andrew’s father, Prince Philip, is patron of the World Wide Fund for Nature, which also opposes the project. 

Prince Andrew is visiting Sakhalin Island off the coast of Russia in his role as Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

Friends of the Earth Sakhalin Campaigner Nick Rau said:

“Prince Andrew’s support for the Sakhalin project may undermine the Royal family’s long standing record of working for the protection of endangered species and the environment.

“The Sakhalin II Project poses a very real threat to the last remaining Western Pacific Grey Whales, an endangered species, and to the island’s fisheries, and puts at risk the livelihoods of the fishing community on Sakhalin .”

The Sakhalin II project is being led by Shell with Mitsubishi and Mitsui and will be the biggest ever integrated oil and gas project, and will include the largest liquid natural gas processing plant ever built. It has also attracted controversy as it is proposed to be part-funded by tax payers’ money through the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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