Oil Lights The Way

On easterly Sakhalin Island, a successful new venture offers hope that petroleum riches can prime a Russian renaissance

Since the Soviet fall, Sakhalin Island, off Russia's eastern edge, has seen more than its share of ebullient executives from Western oil giants prospecting for black gold. But few have kept their confidence for long. Most have endured frustrating years waiting for deals to be signed, as bureaucracy, xenophobia and corruption combined to thwart their dreams of bringing Sakhalin's well-known oil riches to the outside world. But in recent months, the oilmen have turned almost giddy--buoyed in equal measure by the high price of crude and President Vladimir Putin's pledge to build a legal foundation for the West's multibillion-dollar oil bet...

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