Skip to main content

Sea Shells and Pipe dreams

From Corporate WatchShell are up to some more landscape trashing, leading a consortium proposing to build an overland pipeline through the west of Ireland. Wending its way sixty five kilometres off the North West coast, passing through villages and farmers' land, the pipeline will got from the Corrib gas field in Western Ireland to a refiner then end at Galway.
There are worries that the pipeline, which includes electrical cables, hydraulic fluids and cleansing acids and waste, will be built over unstable bog land, risking landslides. The highly combustible gas is odourless and transparent this means that leaks are virtually undetectable. The construction of the refinery also raises concerns about possible pollution of nearby Lake Carrowmore; with worries regarding the stability of the proposed structures. With a number of houses nearby there are also concerns regarding the output of chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, methane, ozone and carbon and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Moreover, toxic waste such as lad, nickel, magnesium, phosphorous, chronium, mercury and radon will be pumped into Broadhaven Bay, Mayo on the west coast. This is a Special Area of Conservation which is popular for local fishing and also provides sanctuary to sea birds, seals, basking sharks, whales and dolphins.
The community is fighting back . Already, five local residents have been arrested for refusing Shell access to their land. The 'Rossport 5' arrested on the 29th June, are backed by a popular campaign and have the support of the local community, environmental activists, individuals and farmers unions. Local and national actions include targeting the corporations and organisations involved from the authorisation to the construction of the pipeline. Local and national coverage of the pipeline has been absymal, including an article from the Irish Times regarding the 'threatening behaviour' of protestors toward Shell.
Who's involved in building the pipeline?
Shell International Shell International are a consortium of Royal Dutch/Shell (45%), Statoil (36.5%) and Marathon (18.5%). It is alleged that Shell's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) omitted findings from their own commissioned University College Cork study which found that Broadhaven Bay was a breeding and rearing area for whales and dolphins, recording over 220 sightings of seven whale and dolphin species, two seal species, basking sharks & a sea turtle.
Ion Equity Ion Equity took over Shell's retail and commercial business in the Republic of Ireland. 'Irish Shell' owns six oil importation facilities in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Derry and Greenore, 35 local distribution depots and 55 retail service stations. It also supplies 105 independently-owned service stations. The business is thought to have a turnover of around €1 billion a year .
Statoil Statoil are a Norwegian based integrated gas and oil company, previously involved in the controversial Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline, and also sponsors of the Iraq Procurement Conferences (see Corporate Watch Feb/March 2005, 'Windrush Comunications: Delivering Iraq to the Corporations').
Marathon With their headquarters in Texas, in 2001 Marathon was one of the top five oil companies controlling most of the US domestic oil market.
Sicim-Roadbridge An Italian construction company established in 1962, they have been involved in previous Irish pipeline projects including the linking of gas resources between Dublin and Galway and Limerick in 2002.
British Pipeline Agency Ltd (BPA) BPA was established in 1969 as a joint venture between British Petroleum (BP) and Shell. They were commissioned by the Irish Minister for the Marine, Noel Dempsey, to undertake a Qualified Risk Assessment into the health and safety aspects of the pipeline. However, as they are part-owned by Shell, this brings into questions their neutrality.
Worryingly, there is no public agency with specific responsibility for such safety. There are concerns that the pipeline will not conform to any single internationally recognised standard.
AEA Technology AEA Technolgy calls itself 'one of Britain's leading technology companies', and has been involved with Shell on other projects. AEA Technology have also sanctioned BNFL's Sellafield plant in Cumbria, another source of major health risks and.
The Irish Government Thanks to a deal between the then Minister of Energy, Ray Burke, and multinationals, the Republic's government gave away the rights to the raw gas resources, ensuring that Shell can extract them without paying anything back to the state. The 50% state stake and all rights to royalties have been removed, tax revenue slashed to 25% and 100% tax write-offs introduced against development costs, meaning that the Irish people would have to buy back its own gas. Furthermore, Shell are under no obligation to provide any of it to the national grid. Also, due to compulsory purchase orders, Shell workers are free to access land for development. As local residents resisted, the High Court passed injunctions at the request of Shell which prevents them from protecting their property and the area.
There has been mass criticism of the Irish government for their apparent support of Shell's pipeline project, especially as they have not been seen to intervene in the case of the Rossport 5. It has been argued that Shell's actions towards the jailing of the five farmers was illegal as they had, at the time, no consent to build the pipeline until Minister for the Marine, Noel Dempsey gave Shell the go-ahead.
Contacts ''Shell to Sea: the local campaign with updates on the pipeline Maura Harrington 087 9591474; ''See Ireland Indymedia for more news on the pipeline and protests:

Posted Date: 
3 August 2005 - 7:54pm