The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development launched public consultations Wednesday about a possible loan for a Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led project on Russia's Sakhalin Island, noting concerns about the impact on a nearby whale population and thousands of streams and rivers.
&to=http://english.pravda.ru/comp/2002/06/19/30705.html' target=_blank>EBRD President Jean Lemierre said the move to the consultation phase did not mean the bank had made a final decision on the environmental or financial soundness of the Sakhalin II liquefied natural gas project.
The bank had decided to begin consultations after the consortium, Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd., provided documentation about the environmental impact of the project and progress made to mitigate that impact, he said.
Lemierre added that the consortium behind the project, which will supply liquefied natural gas to markets in Asia and Mexico, had indicated the cost could be US$20 billion (Ђ16.67 billion) to US$22 billion (Ђ18.33 billion).
Shell, which has a 55-percent stake in the project, said it anticipated a budget of US$20 billion (Ђ16.6 billion) for the project through 2014. The project's original cost estimate, made in May 2003, was US$10 billion (Ђ8.3 billion).
Sakhalin Energy Chief Executive Officer Ian Craig welcomed the bank's decision, saying it reflected the "rigorous environmental and social standards adopted by the company."