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Greenpeace lawyer prepares case against Shell,,329663351-108725,00.html
Terry MacalisterFriday December 15, 2006The British lawyer who represented Greenpeace in the battle with Shell over the disposal of the Brent Spar oil platform has been hired by Russia to prepare a case against the Anglo-Dutch oil company over problems at its development project on Sakhalin island off Siberia.

Mark Stephens, partner at Finer Stephens Innocent, said he expected court proceedings in spring although he would not say whether that would be in London, New York or Moscow.
The moves emerged amid another twist to the Sakhalin story yesterday with the environmental official dubbed a "Kremlin attack dog" for his verbal assaults on Shell's environmental records facing disciplinary proceedings.
Oleg Mitvol, the deputy head of RosPrirodNadzor, Russia's environmental agency, has been recommended for a formal warning by his own boss in a move which was variously interpreted as the result of internal jealousy or a softening of the Kremlin's line as a deal neared between Shell and state-owned Gazprom over an asset swap.
Mr Stephens made his name defending Greenpeace in litigation brought by Shell to recover the Brent Spar platform in the North Sea in 1995 which it alleged had been illegally occupied by the environmental activists. The case fizzled out, but Shell lost the public relations battle with Greenpeace and dropped its plans to sink the platform in place of dismantling it at the shoreside.
The defeat had a profound effect on the Anglo-Dutch oil group which threw itself into schemes aimed at rebuilding its reputation for corporate social responsibility.
Mr Stephens said last night he was confident the Russian government would be able to build a successful case against Shell over environmental violations at the Sakhalin liquefied natural gas project.
"I have been asked to put together a team of international lawyers and to come up with options for proceedings to be taken to enforce Shell's environmental obligations at Sakhalin," he explained.
He expressed support for Mr Mitvol who he described as a "man of principle" and said he was sure he would emerge vindicated from any investigation into his words or behaviour.
Sergei Sai, the head of RosPrirodNadzor, has asked natural resources minister Yuri Trutnev to give Mr Mitvol a formal warning. If Mr Mitvol receives a second warning of this kind he could be sacked, according to officials, who noted that he had been shut out of meetings with a sister agency last week.
The former businessman told a Moscow radio station that he was being punished for being too good at his job. "I'm someone who sticks in the throat of a lot of bureaucrats," he told Ekho Moskvy, while financial analysts said he had stood on a lot of toes, inside and outside government.
"It could suggest that his endless stream of attacks on Shell and others had achieved the goal the Kremlin wanted, and there could be a softening of the position against them," one expert said.
Others questioned whether the call for a reprimand was just a way of cutting down to size a man whose profile had become far higher than the environmental agency he worked for.
Within hours of the disciplinary decision, Mr Mitvol gave a clean bill of health to another British firm that he had previously attacked for alleged environmental violations: Peter Hambro Mining.
Some critics have assumed that Mr Mitvol's campaign to hold Shell accountable for problems at Sakhalin was tied to a desire by Gazprom to take a stake in the world's largest liquefied natural gas project. Shell has offered to hand over a 30% stake in the $20bn (£10bn) LNG scheme although it is still wrangling with Gazprom over what price it should pay.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2006

Posted Date: 
15 December 2006 - 5:35pm