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Shell interrupts pipeline construction at Sakhalin-2
MOSCOW, Aug 28 (AFP) Aug 28, 2006
The Sakhalin Energy consortium led by Royal Dutch/Shell said Monday it had interrupted construction on oil and gas pipelines at the massive Sakhalin-2 offshore energy project in far eastern Russia.

"We have interrupted construction on the specific segments that presented a landslide risk," Sakhalin Energy spokesman Ivan Chernyakhovsky told AFP, adding that seven kilometers of pipeline were affected.

"We have established that certain sub-contractors were not respecting technical decisions or norms," Chernyakhovsky said.

The region affected was an above-land section of the pipelines located midway between the oil and gas fields north of Sakhalin island and the oil and gas terminal in Aniva bay, to the south of the island.

The company has already installed 1,410 kilomters (880 miles) of the pipelines, which will total 1,600 kilomters, and Sakhalin Energy "does not expect this interruption to influence the general schedule" of the project, Chernyakhovsky said.

The Russian natural resources ministry said at the beginning of August that pipeline construction should be stopped due to a risk of landslides.

Russian business daily Kommersant on Monday called the decision "rear-guard politics" and said it "could simply serve as an argument in negotiations that (Russian state gas monopoly) Gazprom, which seeks a 25-percent stake in Sakhakin Energy, is holding with Shell."

Gazprom has been in talks with Royal Dutch/Shell for years to obtain a stake in Sakhalin Energy, which is 55-percent owned by the joint Dutch-British energy giant.

Chernyakhovsky refused to comment on Kommersant's claim.

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