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Irish Independent: Shell rules out offshore gas platform for Corrib Field

Published: Sep 22, 2006

A PLATFORM nearly as high as the Empire State Building would be required to process gas from the Corrib Field offshore, Shell has claimed.

Categorically ruling out the offshore alternative, Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL) indicated that preliminary work on the onshore terminal at Bellanaboy would begin next week, despite the likelihood of protests and picketing.

Terry Nolan, deputy managing director, told a news briefing in Castlebar that offshore processing was not an option as the gas was 350m down in an area 83km out to sea where conditions are worse than in the North Sea.

Preliminary work on the stalled terminal will recommence next week, said Mr Nolan.

Full scale construction activity will begin in the spring and it is envisaged the processing facility will be completed three years from now. Work on the terminal is to begin even though a new route for the controversial onshore pipeline – as recommended by the Advantica independent safety review – has not been decided.

A formal application for what Shell describes as a ‘modified route’ will have to be submitted to the Department of Energy and Natural Resources and the whole process could take up to a year.

Mr Nolan said yesterday that the new pipeline route would involve “modification rather than tweaking”.

“We will consult widely,” he promised. “We need to get the agreement of the landowners and the acceptance of the community. I am confident we fill find a pipeline route that will be acceptable.”

Asked about the likelihood of protests when work on the terminal site, which was suspended in August of last year following protests, is resumed, Mr Nolan said he hoped for reasonable dialogue. He said he had written to Shell-to-Sea spokesman, Dr Mark Garavan, this week to seek a meeting on the company’s new, seven stage, consultative process.

Dr Garavan said the process of consultation on a new pipeline route was a false process as Shell was proceeding with construction of the terminal. You can’t break down the project and break it down into small piecesand build it piece by piece, he said.

“It is an integrated project. It has to be looked at in its totality. The company are saying that whether they get agreement or not, the end product, the terminal which the pipeline will be linked to, is going to be built anyway.”

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