From: Alex Nicholson, Associated Press
Published June 27, 2005 12:00 AM

Greenpeace Activists Picket Credit Suisse Moscow Office over Far East Oil Project Funding

MOSCOW — About a dozen Greenpeace activists picketed Credit Suisse's downtown Moscow offices Monday over the bank's funding of a disputed oil and gas project on and around the Russian Far East island of Sakhalin.


Greenpeace says the US$10 billion (euro8.28 billion) Sakhalin-2 project threatens the island's fragile ecosystem and has already reduced the population of rare gray whales, whose summer feeding grounds are located around a key offshore oil and gas field.


"The death of the whales is the Swiss guarantee" read one of the activists' placards.


"As we have already seen, the oil companies working on the Sakhalin shelf have already shown their irresponsibility toward Sakhalin's fragile nature," said Vladimir Chuprov, head of Greenpeace's Russian energy division. "Now they need a Swiss guarantee to finish off the island's unique ecosystem once and for all."


Earlier this month, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said it had identified problems with the project's pipeline and would suspend work on providing a loan for the project on the grounds that it was not in compliance with the bank's policy.


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A spokesman for Credit Suisse in London was not immediately available for comment.


Greenpeace promised road blocks to protest the project on the island itself Tuesday as well as demonstrations outside the headquarters of Credit Suisse in New York and project leader Royal Dutch/Shell in London on Tuesday.


Some of Russia's largest oil and gas fields are located off Sakhalin Island, which is more than 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers) east of Moscow and some 430 miles (690 kilometers) north of Tokyo. Many multinational oil companies are currently working to tap the reserves.


Indigenous groups and environmentalists, however, say the massive drilling projects will harm the island's fragile maritime environment and disrupt traditional culture of the island's native inhabitants. In January, protesters blockaded construction sites belonging to Shell and Exxon Mobil.


While Shell announced it would reroute pipelines around the whales' feeding grounds, concerns remain over waste generated by the onshore section of the pipeline as it crosses rivers and streams on the island. Greenpeace said the pipeline could also be vulnerable to seismic activity on the island.


Source: Associated Press


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