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Sakhalin Energy saves whales, cuts CEO adrift

It was a case of save the whales but lose the CEO on the island of Sakhalin off the far-east coast of Russia last month. Sakhalin Energy, a multi-billion dollar oil and gas project whose majority shareholder is Shell, is rethinking plans to build an offshore pipeline in the Piltun-Astokhskoye field ?to ensure minimal disturbance to the western grey whale?.

Environmental NGOs are concerned that the Sakhalin projects, both those of Sakhalin Energy and of a consortium led by Exxon-Mobil, will disturb the endangered species: scientists believe there are fewer than 100 individuals extant.

Following the announcement of the pipeline rescheduling, Sakhalin Energy then said that its CEO, Steve McVeigh, would be returning to Shell, to be replaced by Ian Craig.

A Sakhalin Energy source says McVeigh?s departure is not related to ?the whale issue?, but that it is Shell?s policy to rotate senior management every few years.

The Sakhalin Energy project is reported to be about $2 billion over budget, because of the weak dollar and rising raw materials costs from Chinese industrial suppliers. It is seeking around $4 billion in additional funding, of which a large proportion will be from multilateral organizations.

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