Russia sues to overturn approval for giant Shell energy project

Russia is suing to overturn its initial approval of a $20 billion Royal Dutch Shell oil and gas project, citing alleged environmental violations. (As Shell is locked in an ownership dispute with state-run oil company Gazprom, some analysts suspect the litigation has more to do with control than with concern over ecosystems, but we’ll take what we can get.) Russia’s Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources claims Shell and its partners failed to build anti-erosion facilities and disposed of excessive industrial wastewater at Sakhalin 2, the world’s largest integrated oil and natural gas project. The project is 75 percent complete and was scheduled to be done in mid-2008; if not halted by the lawsuit, it will have the capacity to meet 8 percent of the world’s demand for liquefied natural gas. Shell, which has spent millions assessing the environmental and social impacts of the development, says on its website, “The project complies fully with Russian and international environmental standards.” For whatever that’s worth.