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Irish Times: Shell delays Mayo pipeline until next year: ôResponding to the development, Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the five men in prison and the Shell to Sea campaign, called on the firm to "use this pause to reconfigure the entire project, make it safer and better with an offshore terminal, and listen to the people of Mayo".: Friday Aug 05, 2005

 

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

 

Shell E&P Ireland says it will defer laying the offshore pipeline for the Corrib gas project until next year. The company said last night the temporary suspension "will not materially affect the project's completion schedule", and will "allow for a period of discussion and dialogue".

 

Shell would "use this time to address remaining public concerns and is fully committed to delivering the Corrib project, which will address Ireland's urgent need for an alternative indigenous natural gas supply", it said.

 

Responding to the development, Dr Mark Garavan, spokesman for the five men in prison and the Shell to Sea campaign, called on the firm to "use this pause to reconfigure the entire project, make it safer and better with an offshore terminal, and listen to the people of Mayo".

 

Shell welcomed the consent issued for the offshore pipeline this week by Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey, but had decided to reschedule operations "after carefully considering all of the factors affecting the implementation of this phase".

 

The world's largest pipe-laying vessel, Solitaire, had been booked for the project later this month but the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association indicated it was considering a blockade in Broadhaven Bay in protest over the imprisonment of the north Mayo residents opposed to the high- pressure onshore pipeline.

 

"While we strongly believe that all safety aspects of the onshore pipeline have been fully addressed, we want the public to have confidence that every reasonable step has been taken," Andy Pyle, Shell's chief executive, said last night. Deferral of offshore work was "a further sign of our commitment to safety", he said.

 

Shell has suspended work on the onshore pipeline, pending the safety review which the Minister has put out to tender. It said "essential environmental and safety work" would continue on it. It has been directed by the Minister to dismantle 3km of pipe welded without consent, and is still taking legal advice on this.

 

In a separate development, the Green Party has accused Mr Dempsey of exacerbating tensions over the Corrib gas issue by failing to release the environmental management plan for the project. The document is cited by the Minister's department in its plan of development for Corrib, which was signed off by former marine minister Frank Fahey in April 2002.

 

Green Party marine spokesman Eamon Ryan was promised a copy of the original plan in a reply by the Minister to a Dail question on November 17th, 2004. In that reply, the Minister referred to it as an "organic and evolving document" instead of a finished programme. Failure to release it was a "symptom of the obstructionist and secretive attitude" which had helped to create the impasse in Mayo, Mr Ryan said.

 

A spokesman for the Minister said a copy was sent to Mr Ryan yesterday, but Mr Ryan had not received it by close of business.

 

Fianna Fail Mayo councillors Tim Quinn and Frank Chambers have expressed disappointment that the Minister has not yet responded to a request from Mayo County Council, issued on July 19th, to meet it.

 

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