Sakhalin success: good for whales
After months of lobbying, Shell has agreed to shift
the route of its Sakhalin II oil and gas pipeline to avoid the feeding ground of the endangered Western Pacific Grey whale.
A success to celebrate?
Yes! It is a major concession by Shell, and could make a huge difference to this whale population's chances of survival.
The pipeline will no longer cross straight through a favoured feeding area for female whales with calves in the small strip of shallows off Sakhalin's north east coast.
The whale is a bottom feeder, and as such, is particularly vulnerable to pipeline construction
which involves digging a huge trench through their dinner table.
Around 100 Western Grey whales remain, including only 23 breeding females. A recent report by the World Conservation Union says the loss of only one female per year would lead to the population's extinction.
The good news...
- Shell has announced that its offshore pipeline will now be routed 20 miles south of the original location.
...and the bad
- Shell is refusing to move its proposed second oil drilling platform, which is currently planned adjacent to the whale feeding ground.
- The pipeline route passes through the breeding grounds of many rare birds including Steller's Sea Eagle and the highly endangered Nordmann's greenshank.
- The pipeline will pump the equivalent of half a million barrels of oil everyday - adding to global climate change.
The UK taxpayer could still end up subsidising this project, if loans from the EBRD go ahead. Gordon Brown, as a governor of the EBRD, should use his influence to stop this loan to the oil industry.
Nick Rau, Friends of the Earth oil campaigner