Russia's Pacific Sakhalin island braces for blizzard

MOSCOW Sat Mar 31, 2012 4:51am EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Emergencies Ministry said on Saturday it expected blizzards and high winds to batter the northern parts of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands on Sunday, an area that is home to international oil and gas projects.

The ministry said that southern winds were expected to strengthen to 35-37 meters per second with heavy snow forecast in the Okhinsk and Nogliki regions of Sakhalin on Sunday, April 1.

Waves up to 9 meters high were likely in the southern part of the Okhotsk Sea, it added.

"(An) urgent warning was sent to the administrations of the said regions with recommendations on how to react," the ministry said on its web site here

Located off the east coast of Russia, the island of Sakhalin is as a gateway for Russian oil and gas exports to the Asia-Pacific region.

ExxonMobil and Russia's top crude producer Rosneft have a production sharing agreement at the Sakhalin-1 project, while Shell and Gazprom are partners at Sakhalin-2, Russia's sole liquefied natural gas plant.

Russia also exports its ESPO crude blend from the mainland Pacific port of Kozmino.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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