Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 27 April, 2006 – Dutch Banking giant ABN AMRO is under pressure at its annual general meeting of shareholders today as environmental organizations are urging it not to finance a controversial energy project in Russia.
Friends of the Earth International
27 april, 2006
The Sakhalin-II project in Russia is one of the biggest oil and gas projects worldwide, and the environmental organizations claim that it violates social and environmental guidelines known as the ‘Equator Principles’ for financing major projects.
The Sakhalin-II project, led by oil giant Shell, will threaten the last 100 critically endangered western gray whales with extinction, and will result in severe social and environmental impacts, according to Friends of the Earth International, Sakhalin Environment Watch and Pacific Environment.
Sakhalin-II, in Russia’s Far East, is one of Shell’s most prestigious and risky projects. The oil giant is doing everything it can to stick to tight construction deadlines but the environment and local populations are already paying the price.
Here are some recent problems:
Dredging waste was dumped into the fisheries-rich Aviva Bay. Local fishermen fear that their livelihood is threatened.
Shell refused to take over most of the recommendations from the independent ‘Whale Advisory Panel’ and built a platform concrete base last summer in the absence of key mitigation measures to protect whales.
The construction of pipelines has led to damage to over 100 wild salmon spawning beds.
Sakhalin-II lacks a comprehensive oil spill response plan, despite great risks due to the icy conditions in the area. A significant oil spill occurred already in 2004 at the port of Kholmsk.
These problems outline a number of violations of the so-called ‘Equator Principles’, of which ABN AMRO is one of the initiators.
The bank said that it would not finance projects that do not stick to these principles. Friends of the Earth International, Pacific Environment and Sakhalin Environment Watch therefore expect ABN AMRO not to finance Sakhalin-II.
“The Sakhalin-II oil and gas project is causing unacceptable damage to our environment, weakening our fisheries based economy, and creating social problems on the island. Shell violated Russian law. If ABN AMRO will take part in this adventure, the bank will definitely loose its face,” according Alexander Solovev from Sakhalin Environment Watch.
“Sakhalin-II might result in the extinction of the last 100 Western gray whales. ABN AMRO should de-link itself from extinction” says Doug Norlen from Pacific Environment.
“ABN AMRO says that it promotes the Equator Principles. Sakhalin-II clearly violates these principles, so if ABN AMRO decides to finance this project, that would make the principles meaningless and ABN AMRO would
loose its credibility” says Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth International.
For more information:
Paul de Clerck, Friends of the Earth International, +32-473510147
Alexander Solovev, Sakhalin Environment Watch, +31-644919778 (valid only until April 28)
Doug Norlen, Pacific Environment, +31-644919777 (valid until only April 28) or +1-2024651650