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Lenihan's claims of absolute safety are nonsense, say Shell to Sea

--- BP CEO Tony Hayward vowed in 2007 to “focus like a laser on a safe and reliable operations” ---
--- BP CEO Tony Hayward stated in 2010 Gulf oil spill "should never have happened" ---

Shell to Sea today criticised Minister of State for Natural Resources Conor Lenihan for stating that a Gulf of Mexico-type pollution incident could never happen in Ireland.[1]

The Sedco 711 drilling rig, which is owned by Transocean, is currently drilling for oil & gas off the coast of Mayo after being commissioned by Shell, Statoil and Vermillion.  Transocean also owned the Deepwater Horizon rig which exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the deaths of 11 workers and at least 80 million gallons of oil being released so far.

Replying to the Minister's comments, after being released for the sixth time from Mountjoy prison earlier this morning, Maura Harrington stated "For Conor Lenihan to say that the oil companies current drilling programme 80km off the coast of Mayo will be "closely monitored" runs totally in contrast with our experiences for the last 10 years.  The Government have let Shell away with illegally constructing pipe beside us here in Glengad, how are they going to watch what Shell are doing 80km out to sea?"[2]

In relation to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Ms Harrington stated "A supposedly fail-safe device called a blowout preventer, failed to operate and resulted in the huge oil spill, and yet we're supposed to believe Shell, that their fail-safe devices will always work and don't pose any risk to our community.  As we are currently seeing, it is the local communities that have to deal with the consequences when something goes wrong."   

Ms Harrington continued "Earlier this year, the chief technical officer of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources, Bob Hanna was actually petitioning Bord Pleanála to implement less strict safety conditions on the Shell onshore pipeline[3].  It remains to be seen if Bord Pleanála will bow to this political interference."

Even as oil has continued to pour out into the Gulf of Mexico, Conor Lenihan and Eamon Ryan have recently opened up an area covering more than  250,000 sq km to the oil companies for exploration. [4][5]

Ms Harrington added " Meanwhile as Transocean continues drilling off the coast of Mayo and oil continues decimating the coast of Louisiana, a local fisherman, Pat O'Donnell remains in his jail cell.  Pat has consistently tried to highlight the potential for mass pollution and destruction of the seas, that comes with Shell's plans for north-west Mayo." 



* Maura Harrington 
* Terence Conway  

Notes for editors:

[1] Gulf of Mexico-type pollution disaster could not happen here, says Minister - Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

[2] The Corrib Gas ruling - Ed Moran - Mayo News

[3]  Corrib Gas protestors meet ministers - Áine Ryan - Mayo News

[4] Largest round of oil, gas licensing - Laura Slattery & Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

[5] Government approves scandalous give away of Ireland's remaining offshore prospects - Colm Rapple - Irish Mail on Sunday


Shell to Sea is a national campaign with active groups based across Ireland. The Shell to Sea campaign has three main aims. 1) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted. 2) To have the Corrib gas field exploited in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health and safety risks. 3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.  

*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of gas and oil in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2009 of $60, this works out at $600 billion, or €420 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south coast or inland. The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.