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Sakhalin Energy denies withholding info on environmental hazards

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Sakhalin Energy, the operator of Russia's Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, denied late Tuesday an environmental official's allegation that the company had knowingly withheld information on environmental hazards from authorities.

Oleg Mitvol, deputy director of the Federal Service for Natural Resources Oversight, said Tuesday that the watchdog planned to file a lawsuit in an international court against Sakhalin Energy for "concealing substantial information," including that about an audit confirming the possibility of mudslides in the project area.

"We are disappointed at what appears to be an unsubstantiated attack containing exaggerations and distortions of the facts regarding the Sakhalin 2 project. Many of the attributed remarks do not even appear to be within (the Federal Service for Natural Resources Oversight's) environmental mandate. The company completely rejects the suggestion that information regarding environmental hazards was knowingly withheld from regulators or shareholders," Sakhalin Energy said.

Sakhalin Energy claimed that "the degree of transparency and accountability demonstrated by Sakhalin 2 has set a benchmark for future projects."

The company said that it took the environmental watchdog's inspections "very seriously", which is why it had submitted an environmental action plan to the Natural Resources Ministry.

"It is therefore disappointing that the plan has been trivialized and misquoted before any discussion has taken place with the company," Sakhalin Energy added.

Sakhalin Energy published the environmental action plan on its Web site on Wednesday in order to "correct any misconceptions."

In September, the Natural Resources Ministry cancelled the Sakhalin-2 project's environmental approval. Mitvol said then that Sakhalin Energy would have to stop operations due to the cancellation.

The service has accused Sakhalin Energy of committing numerous environmental violations, including conducting illegal logging operations and failing to adhere to the terms of its water use license.

The Sakhalin-2 project area has oil reserves of 150 million tonnes and gas reserves of 500 billion cubic meters.

Shell Sakhalin Holdings BV, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch/Shell, owns a 55% stake in Sakhalin Energy, while Mitsui Sakhalin Holdings, a subsidiary of Japan's Mitsui, has a 25% stake and Diamond Gas Sakhalin, a subsidiary of Japan's Mitsubishi, holds a 20% stake.

© Prime-Tass

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