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Reuters: Shell bows to pressure to re-route Irish pipeline

Thu Aug 3, 2006 9:28am ET

DUBLIN, Aug 3 (Reuters) – Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Thursday it would re-route a gas pipeline in western Ireland, as recommended by a state mediator, but local residents who have delayed the project said their protests would continue.

“We have agreed to implement all of the recommendations in the Independent Safety Review,” Andy Pyle, Managing Director of Shell E&P Ireland, said in a statement.

“This pipeline is safe. It’s time for this project to move forward and we believe that the best way to do so is to modify the pipeline route.”

The changes were proposed by a government-appointed mediator after five men, known as the Rossport 5, last year spent almost 100 days in jail for protesting against the building of a pipeline they believed ran too close to their homes.

Their imprisonment — for contempt of court for breaching an injunction not to obstruct the building of the pipeline — triggered protests across Ireland and calls for higher taxes on oil companies.

Shell, whose partners in the offshore Corrib gas field are Norway’s Statoil (STL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research) and U.S.-based Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO.N: Quote, Profile, Research), said it was also considering dropping legal proceedings against the objectors.

Construction work on the 300 million euro ($383 million) pipeline has been on hold for the last year.

Mark Garavan, a spokesman for the ‘Shell to Sea’ campaign said the company’s proposals fell “far short of what is required”.

“We regard the statement as giving rise to a very serious situation in that they are clearly stating their intention to continue with the project,” he said.

Opponents not only objected to the routing of the pipeline but also want Shell to process the gas on an offshore shallow water platform instead of onshore.

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