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Ireland On-Line: Experts want gas pressure reduced on Corrib pipeline: “Consultants assessing the risks of the controversial Corrib gas project in Mayo have called for pressure in the onshore section of the pipe to be restricted, it emerged today.”: Posted 9 December 2005


Consultants assessing the risks of the controversial Corrib gas project in Mayo have called for pressure in the onshore section of the pipe to be restricted, it emerged today.


In a draft report on the hazards of the scheme, experts said the pipe would be fit for use if it was re-classified as suburban.


Advantica Consultants said limiting pressure to 144 bar, half the level the pipe was designed for, would be a practical and effective measure to reduce risk.


The report, compiled by a team of 14 experts, insisted that the pipe was designed to meet or exceed appropriate standards and international best practice.


It stated that proper consideration was given to safety issues in selecting the preferred design option and locations of the landfall, route and terminal in Bellanaboy.


Noel Dempsey, Natural Resources Minister, said the report showed the route, which is 70m from homes at some points, would be acceptable if changes were made.


“They find the route was acceptable, provided the recommendations they make are followed,” he said.


But he refused to speculate whether Shell would carry out the recommendations.


“That is a matter for Shell. This is only a draft report. Shell will make their response known as will everyone else,” he said.


“But it is fair that the report does say that the pipeline has been designed to meet or exceed best international practice and standards.”


The Advantica report is at odds with a review compiled on behalf of the Centre for Public Inquiry, which is headed by journalist Frank Connolly.


But Mr Dempsey said the CPI report was two thirds political and one third consultancy.


The pipeline is designed to withstand maximum pressure of 345 bar, but Shell have always insisted the maximum levels gas would pass through the line would be between 135 and 150 bar.


Advantica outlined a series of recommendations which it claimed would ensure the pipeline would be fit for use.


Experts called for a formal integrity management plan with the Technical Advisory Group of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources putting in place an audit and inspection procedure of Shell’s integrity management plan.


The consultants said the Department’s permission/consenting system needs to be reviewed. Advantica recommended that all aspects of pipeline operation and maintenance should be considered at the beginning of a project and not on a phased basis.


The report stated that Ireland should adopt a formal risk-based framework for assessing the safety of major infrastructure projects.


Advantica however warned that the internal corrosion rate prediction for the pipe does not follow current industry best practice. The report called for a re-evaluation of corrosion rate predictions.


The draft report stated: “Provided that it can be demonstrated that the pressure in the onshore pipeline will be limited effectively, and that the recommendations made elsewhere in this report are followed, we believe that there will be a substantial safety margin in the pipeline design, and the pipeline design and proposed route should be accepted as meeting or exceeding international standards.”


The public and interested parties have two weeks to comment on the report and a final review will be completed in the New Year. 


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