Two stories on the impact of oil on marine mammals with environmental and Indigenous groups fighting back against the oil industry.

Two environmental groups have accused the British Government of covertly sponsoring Royal Dutch Shell’s Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project off east Russia, which they say is causing major environmental damage and threatening a rare species of whale.

WWF and The Corner House are seeking a judicial review of what they claim is crucial financial support for a project which does not meet official standards on conservation.

The case is filed against the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) – the government department charged with facilitating British business abroad. This follows the discovery that ECGD had committed to underwriting $1bn of contracts for the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company (SEIC) – despite three years of assurances to the British public that this decision was still being considered.

SEIC is a Bermuda registered company responsible for Sakhalin II, a major oil and gas development in Russia. The Sakhalin II project, which is, in fact, almost completed, has already caused serious environmental damage and threatens the extinction of the Western Pacific gray whale.

James Leaton, WWF-UK’s Oil and Gas Policy Adviser, said: “ECGD’s support for the Sakhalin II project effectively gave the backing of the UK government to an environmental catastrophe. ECGD has paid lip-service to the environment, but shows no intention of taking concrete action to prevent damage caused by the projects it backs. Supporting this project shows no coherence across the UK government on protecting biodiversity or tackling climate change.”

One Comment


    WWF-UK today issued a press release announcing that it had filed court procedings, in partnership with The Corner House, against ECGD to challenge ECGD’s conditional offer of support for Sakhalin-II.

    This press release contained material inaccuracies and was misleading.

    ECGD’s conditional offer stated that ECGD’s support for the project would only be made available if certain conditions were met. These included conditions relating to the environmental and social impacts of the project. To date, ECGD has not made a decision as to whether these conditions, including the environmental and social ones, have been met and therefore as to whether ECGD will support the project.

    ECGD has explained this on several occasions, most recently in a letter to WWF-UK of 23 July 2007. This letter corrected an incorrect quotation, implying ECGD’s offer of support was unconditional, in an earlier letter from WWF-UK. WWF-UK’s failure to recognise this correction is misleading.

    The press release alleges a discrepancy between ECGD’s conditional offer to support Sakhalin-II subject to certain conditions being met and the statement to Parliament by ECGD’s then-Minister Mike O’Brien of 5 March 2004, that he would “approve support only if I am satisfied that these have been addressed.” There is no contradiction: Mr O’Brien was re-stating ECGD’s position that it had yet to decide whether to support the project. This is still the case.

    15 August 2007

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