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Department plans more refineries for Erris

From Saturday December 16, 2006 00:41 by Terry Given as Shell’s site in Ballinaboy contains 400 acres, ten times more than the size of the refinery they are building at the moment, Shell to Sea activists have long suspected it is to be the first of many. A report published by the Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, earlier this year envisages the construction of more refineries and more pipelines in Erris, in addition to the Corrib gas development, involving companies other than just Shell, and with state encouragement. A backgrounder on oil and gas in the west of Ireland can be read here: ‘Cost Effective Field Development Options’ is a report produced for the Petroleum Affairs Division (PAD, and the Irish Shelf Petroleum Study Group (ISPSG ) by consultants Douglas-Westwood Limited and TCS Partnership. The ISPSG is a joint body between the state and industry to “address common industry problems anywhere in the Irish Offshore”. As of March 2006 companies involved in it are: Chevron, Island Oil & Gas, Providence Resources, Lundin, ENI, Shell, Ramco, Total and Statoil. A brochure containing a summary of the report is available on the PAD website. The report contains ten models of the “economic viability of various field development concepts”, that is ten hypothetical fields located in the Rockall Basin, the Porcupine Basin and Slyne/Erris/Donegal Basins off the West coast, each containing different resources, at differing market prices, at different depths and with different ways of developing them. Hypothetical field “South Porcupine/Goban Basin Gas Field 1D” has a pipeline which “will land adjacent to the existing Corrib terminal.” and have “a land based gas terminal.”, but this model has no further mention of the proposed Corrib gas infrastructure. The South Porcupine/Gohan Basin is in south-west of Kerry, so apparently gas fields anywhere on the west coast can use the proposed Corrib infrastructure. Model field “North Porcupine Basin Gas/Condensate Field 2B” uses the “existing Corrib terminal.”, as does “Slyne/Erris/Donegal Basin Gas/Condensate Fields 3D”. “Slyne/Erris/Donegal Basin Gas/Condensate Field 3C” has an “export pipeline” “ to the Corrib onshore gas terminal” or to an “adjacent facility.” Hypothetical fields “Slyne/Erris/Donegal Basin Gas/Condensate Fields 3A & 3B” use either a new refinery in Erris or a modification of the one currently under construction. The report explains further: “an additional Capex of $256m to cover a newbuild terminal, adjacent to the existing Corrib terminal and its operating costs. It may be possible to reduce the Capex if it is feasible to add an additional two processing trains and slug catcher into the existing terminal (depending on tariffs charged by the existing terminal operator).” For clarity, from that, the reference to “existing terminal operator” it is that the report envisages new refineries for the Erris area built by companies other than just Shell. Well overall it is clear the report encourages just that. One development option for the “Rockall Basin Gas Field 1B” is a “320 km export pipeline back to an onshore terminal adjacent to Corib.” but this is considered uneconomic in this model. I presume there is a technical reason for some fields using the Corrib refinery and for other fields needing a new refinery or other fields needing a modification of the Corrib refinery. Development in the three model oil fields involves Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) see: and, in one case, removal by tanker to “one of a number of reception facilities throughout Europe.” , while in another there is talk of a pipeline to Bantry Bay. Presumably to Whiddy Island. See: Nonetheless each oil model mentions the proposed Corrib gas infrastructure. The brochure bears the slogan “Atlantic Ireland an Exciting Petroleum Province”, which rather than just the name of a conference, see: , appears to be PAD’s battle cry. In related news Shell have held talks with Donegal County Council, see: and Bear in mind, as revealed during the occupation of Shell Exploitation and Production Ireland’s HQ in October, that building contains not just a Mayo meeting room, but also Clare, Galway, and Kerry meeting rooms; as can be seen in a photo here: Which would suggest plans different from those seen in the PAD brochure.

Posted Date: 
17 December 2006 - 7:21pm