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Western People: Locals want Corrib work to resume: Shell

By: Orla Hearns
SHELL E&P Ireland Ltd (SEPIL) says is has received a lot of calls from local people urging it to recommence work on the Corrib gas project in North Mayo.
Protestors officially re-opened the Rossport Solidarity Camp last Saturday, February 25 in anticipation of renewed efforts by the developer to build the controversial onshore gas pipeline and refinery. But SEPIL says suggestions that a full scale mobilisation back to work on the Bellanaboy terminal site will take place in the coming weeks are unfounded.
The Rossport Solidarity Camp was established last August by supporters of the Rossport 5 who had been jailed for breaching a High Court order preventing them from interfering with works relating to the Corrib gas project. It closed for the winter months but was officially opened again on Saturday, February 25 last.
A statement from the camp explained that it “represents a physical and symbolic barrier to Shell operations in the area”.
SEPIL told the Western People that while it has had a lot of calls from locals urging it to return to work and provide employment, it would not embark on the terminal development until it was satisfied that it could be accomplished in a sustainable way and with the consent of the local people.
With regard to the construction of the on-shore pipeline, SEPIL notes that work on this aspect of the development had been suspended last July pending the out-come of the independent safety review of the pipeline commissioned by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources. The final report is expected shortly. SEPIL is also engaged in the mediation process being led by Mr Peter Cassells.
“We hope that the combination of the publication of final report of the Independent Safety Review along with face-to-face talks with landowners and others who have outstanding concerns can ultimately resolve any outstanding issues. The company has no plans to re-start work on the onshore pipeline activity at the present time,” SEPIL said.
SEPIL’s offshore pipeline works have also stood suspended since August of last year to allow for a period of public discussion and dialogue. The company maintains that it has no plans to recommence such works at present.
The company did however, last Friday, announced details of provisional plans to begin well completion works in the Corrib gas field in late April/early May 2006.
“This work is entirely separate from either offshore or onshore pipe laying activities or the proposed gas processing plant at Bellanaboy,” SEPIL stated.
The company stresses that the only on-shore works currently underway are the environment related procedures at the terminal site in Bellanaboy. SEPIL says it is enjoying a good working relation-ship with protestors at the site at present. The developer says it remains hopeful that the Rossport 5 will decide to re-join the ongoing mediation process.
Dr Mark Garavan, spokesperson for the Rossport 5, said the men have yet to determine their next step in relation to the mediation process and are mindful that they must return to the High Court on March 20 next when it will be determined whether they should be punished for breaching a High Court order.
The Rossport 5 have sought clarification from the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources as to what he intended by the mediation process. The Minister’s comments to date have been discouraging. The men say the scope of the mediation has been widened so much as to render it meaningless.
Meanwhile, SEPIL says well known local journalist, Mr Christy Loftus, is due to take up his new position as External Affairs Advisor with the company later this week. A company spokesperson confirmed that Mr Loftus will be based in Mayo as part of a four person External Affairs team which includes Castlebar native, Mr John Egan, as External Affairs Manager. She declined to elaborate further on Mr Loftus’ new role until he has completed the standard company induction.

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