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MOSCOW (Kyodo) The operator of the Sakhalin 2 natural gas and oil development project said Wednesday it has changed the planned route for a seabed pipeline to help protect a local gray whale habitat.

The new route has been set 20 km south of the original to avoid the habitat of the rare species, said Sakhalin Energy Investment Co.

The World Wildlife Fund and other conservation groups have protested the original plan because an estimated 130 gray whales live in the local waters.

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