Due to a large aging population, 34 million out of the 143 million Russian citizens lived on pensions in 2005. Prior to 2005, a typical Russian pension consisted of just over $70, which central and regional governments supplemented with free public transportation, housing subsidies, and for some pensioners, free prescriptions and telephones.
Sakhalin, an island off the eastern Russian coast and home to many indigenous groups, has long been of extreme interest to oil and gas companies. Exxon, Shell, British Petroleum, and their subsidiaries (Sakhalin Energy being a main one) had been extracting oil on and around the island for 8 years. Shell started working on Sakhalin II, the world’s largest integrated oil and gas project, in 1999.