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Irish Times: Shell to dismantle section of pipeline: The company was responding following legal advice on the Minister's direction of July 31st that the company was in breach of consents, and that it must break up the welded pipeline and agree to a new monitoring arrangement.: Tuesday 9 August 2005

 

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

 

Shell E&P Ireland has agreed to dismantle the section of Corrib gas onshore pipeline that was welded without ministerial consent, Minister for Marine Noel Dempsey said.

 

The company has also agreed to co-operate with the Minister's new monitoring group for the 900 million gas project, and has said it accepts the consent procedure outlined by Mr Dempsey.

 

The company was responding following legal advice on the Minister's direction of July 31st that the company was in breach of consents, and that it must break up the welded pipeline and agree to a new monitoring arrangement.

 

A Shell spokeswoman said it had offered to dismantle the pipeline in its initial response to the Minister last month.

 

Several "minor" legal issues relating to the consent procedure have to be clarified between the department and the company, according to the Minister, who is expected to confirm the composition of his monitoring, or "technical advisory", group later this week.

 

Shell yesterday announced formal suspension of work at its Bellanaboy terminal. The suspension involves laying off a further 128 staff involved in engineering and ground works, according to the company, which said it regretted the decision.

 

Dr Mark Garavan of the Shell to Sea campaign said his group took no pleasure in any such development, but was confident the employees were on contracts and would move on to work elsewhere. The company had already agreed to suspend work on the onshore pipeline while the Minister's new safety review was being conducted, Dr Garavan pointed out. "It underlines once again that the Corrib project is falling apart and requires a root-and-branch analysis."

 

The Minister yesterday published details of the scope of his review of the onshore pipeline, including a stipulation that the authors may be required to make a public presentation of its findings.

 

The consultants will be given two weeks to produce a draft, and a further week to complete a final report, subject to the agreement of the consultant and a project liaison officer. This officer will be appointed by the Minister to liaise between the consultant, the developer, the department and local community groups.

 

The terms include identifying "deficiencies" in the proposed installations. "This assumes that the pipeline is a 'given' and this misses the point," Dr Garavan said. "We have always said we have no problem with the design, but it is the location and the consequences of something going wrong that are at issue."

 

Some eight companies have tendered for the review, which deals with health and safety aspects of the high-pressure onshore pipeline between the landfall in Glengad and the gas terminal 9km away at Bellanaboy. The tender terms state that the Minister "reserves the right to require that such additional work be undertaken and information provided as part of the report as the Minister considers necessary, for the purpose of assuring the comprehensiveness, quality and appropriateness of the final report".

 

Companies seeking the tender must provide full details of ownership and any relationship with any of the parties involved in the Corrib gas pipeline, and must have had no previous involvement with the project. 

 

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