Banks warned against Shell funding

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Green campaigners have warned ABN Amro, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and the government's export credit agency not to consider underwriting Shell's Sakhalin-2 gas project in Russia - as a result of the continuing danger to western grey whales.

Campaigners claim that the development of the project is still being undertaken in an irresponsible way - although the Kremlin had previously argued that all problems would be laid to rest once state-owned Gazprom took a controlling interest in the project in December 2006.

WWF, Friends of the Earth and Russia's Sakhalin Environment Watch are among the groups who have written to the credit agencies, claiming that violations of bank lending policies are continuing and urging them to "protect the integrity [of] your bank's commitment to social and environmental responsibility by declining financing".

"Financing of the enormously risky Sakhalin-2 fundamentally conflicts with the department's environmental policies and carries significant risks to your reputation," the statement argues.

Sakhalin Environment Watch says that natural fish stocks in the area have been depleted as a result of the project - and further argues that Gazprom, Shell and its Japanese partners have a "lacklustre approach to the critically endangered western grey whale".

The whale spawns in the area surrounding the gas field.

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