19 January 2011

Oil company intends to construct new platform near gray whale feeding ground

“Big Oil” is at it yet again.

A Russian energy consortium partly owned by Shell, the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, is planning to erect a new oil platform dangerously close to what the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) calls a “crucial” feeding habitat for the endangered Western North Pacific gray whale.

According to the WWF:

Only around 130 whales of the critically endangered Western population exist today, and their primary feeding habitat – off Sakhalin Island – is already besieged by multiple oil and gas exploration and development projects.

“Just around 30 female western gray whales of breeding age remain – the population is already on the brink of disappearing forever,” said Aleksey Knizhnikov, Oil & Gas Environmental Policy Officer for World Wildlife Fund-Russia (WWF-Russia). “The loss of even a few breeding females could mean the end for the population.”

The company currently operates two platforms in the area and in the past has acknowledged a third platform would not only be unnecessary but could also pose an increased threat to the surrounding environment.

“We are astonished by the announcement from Sakhalin Energy that it intends to build a third platform,” said Wendy Elliott, Species Program Manager, WWF-International. “The company’s own detailed assessments concluded previously that two platforms would be preferable, both for environmental reasons and for the efficiency of the operation.”

Sakhalin Energy aims to begin seismic testing this summer to decide where construction for the third platform should begin.

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/kenlund