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Russia Defends Sakhalin Checks

Russian environmentalists protesting against the Sakhalin-2 project in Moscow in July (ITAR-TASS) September 27, 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has defended environmental checks being conducted at a Shell-led natural gas project in Russia's Far East.

Russian authorities last week revoked a key environmental permit for the big Sakhalin-2 project. On September 26, Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said the project was riddled with environmental violations.

Lavrov today said the checks will not necessarily lead to the revoking of the project's license.

"The checks that are being carried out in no way mean that licenses for developing deposits as part the Sakhalin-2 project will be withdrawn," Lavrov said. "The goal of these checks is to make sure that agreements are fully complied with by all parties. Assertions about the production-sharing agreement being revised and especially about foreigners being forced out of Russia's fuel-and-energy sector have no basis whatsoever."

Analysts saw Russian authorities' pressure on Shell as a means to secure better terms for state-controlled Gazprom, which is seeking to join the project.

(Interfax, AP)

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