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New study gives Corrib go-ahead

A draft version of the eagerly awaited independent safety review of the proposed Corrib gas pipeline in Mayo was launched last Thursday.While the review has found overall that the proposed pipeline has been designed to meet or exceed appropriate standards it also made a number of significant recommendations.
While Shell E&P Ireland says it is still considering the findings of the report, opponents of the Corrib onshore pipeline say they are not surprised at the contents of the review. The Shell to Sea campaign says the review does not provide a basis for the Government consenting to SEPIL’s onshore pipeline.
This is the third safety review to be undertaken in relation to the controversial project. It was commissioned last summer by Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Noel Dempsey in a bid to end the stalemate that developed between landowners in Rossport opposed to SEPIL’s plans to construct a high pressure gas pipeline on their lands and close to their homes. Welcoming the “thorough” report, he said he felt it was important that the local people who had concerns about the proposed project should be first to be briefed on it.
UK based consultants for the gas and oil industries, Advantica, were commissioned to carry out the independent safety review of the Corrib gas pipeline.
The company found that the proposed pipeline has been designed to meet or exceed appropriate standards and to best international practice. The pipeline will be fit for purpose provided some detailed recommendations in the report are followed. The key recommendation is that the developers should ensure that pressure in the onshore Corrib gas pipeline does not exceed 144bar. Advantica finds that the wall thickness of the pipeline and its material composition will render it safe from all credible third party damage. The consultants have investigated the issues relating to peat slippage extensively and have concluded that the proposed pipeline will be safe in peat provided ground condition texts are carried out on land not previously accessible to Shell or its consultants. The Shell-to-Sea campaign of opposition to the proposed high pressure onshore Corrib gas pipeline has once again reiterated its stance that the terms of reference of the safety review commissioned by the Government have prevented Advantica from enquiring into the real safety issues.Shell-to-Sea maintains that the production concept used by Shell, the route of the pipeline, the design of the pipeline and the real consequences in human casualties of a pipeline explosion have not been addressed in the draft review.
“The Advantica report was set up as part of the Government and Shell’s strategy of persuasion,”the campaign stated. “It has spectacularly backfired. Local concerns are greater than ever and local determination to ensure that this pipeline not be built is greater than ever.”Shell-to-Sea maintains that it will not be possible to limit pressure in the pipeline to 144bar:
“As the Accufacts report made clear, no pipeline is impervious to failure and no valve can be a failsafe design. The only guarantees of safety are to ensure first, a safe proximity from the pipeline to nearest houses and people and second, that no production pipeline traverses populated areas. 70 metres proximity fails both these tests.”The campaign insists that the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources still has no basis for consenting to Shell’s production pipeline and must order the company to return to the drawing board and reconfigure the whole Corrib gas project.Shell E&P Ireland (SEPIL) welcomed the publication of Advantica’s detailed and thorough report.“Having engaged with, and listened to, the local community over the past weeks and months SEPIL recognises the sensitivities and concerns over the onshore pipeline and is committed to addressing them. SEPIL will study the report in detail and will take appropriate action to address these concerns as soon as possible.” the company stated.
The Pro-Erris Gas Group has also issued a statement following the publication of the draft report. Chairman, Michael Healy, noted that the launch was well attended and said the report had addressed many of the concerns raised.“It was important that reputable and independent safety experts rigorously examined the concerns raised by the local community. PEGG would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Cassels and Advantica for presenting the report to the local community in such a professional and transparent manner.“PEGG wishes to reaffirm that it remains committed to bringing the gas ashore safely and welcomes the development in terms of job creation, development if infrastructure and social facilities for the local community.”The group said it looks forward to the completion of the final safety report.

Posted Date: 
12 December 2005 - 2:34pm