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Shell bring conflict of interest to attention of the Minister

Mayo News Online (Ireland) : Shell bring conflict of interest to attention of the Minister

2 June 2005

 

Report by Stephen O’Grady

 

DEPUTY Michael Ring has rejected suggestions that the latest twist to the controversial Corrib gas project has been seized upon in a typical display of political opportunism.

 

The Westport-based Fine Gael TD has instead decried the absence of accountability in Irish politics, claiming that Minister Noel Dempsey should have been sacked following weekend revelations about the quantified risk assessment (QRA) of the pipeline from the €900m gas field off the Mayo coast to the proposed terminal at Bellanaboy.

 

It has emerged that British Pipeline Agency Ltd (BPA), the ‘independent’ consultants hired by the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources to evaluate the safety of the pipeline, is jointly-owned by BP and Shell UK. Shell is the major shareholder in the Corrib gas project.

 

“Quite simply, if Minister Dempsey was in any other jurisdiction he’d be sacked, and his officials would be sacked with him. But there is no responsibility or accountability in Ireland.

 

“I blame the Minister and the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources 100 percent,” said Deputy Ring.

 

A spokesperson for Shell told The Mayo News that the third review of the QRA, ordered by the Minister on Monday, would not unduly delay progress in north Mayo, but added that the company would like to have it “in the bag,” as soon as possible.

 

In a statement, Shell explained that the company learned on May 10 that BPA was carrying out the independent review of Shell’s QRA, when queried in relation to a number of technical matters. Up to that point Shell was not aware of Shell UK’s equity stake in the UK-based engineering consultancy firm. This information was brought to Shell’s attention last week, and the company immediately brought its concerns to the attention of the Department of Communications and Natural Resources.

 

“It is regrettable that even though all the relevant agencies of the State are already deployed to safeguard the public interest that some public representatives should seek to undermine public confidence in the project,” the statement continued, referring to comments made by Deputy Ring and Independent Dáil deputy Jerry Cowley at the weekend.

 

Dr Cowley, who has previously questioned the independence of the risk audits carried out on the pipeline, demanded that the Minister defer giving permission to Shell to install and commission the pipeline until he is satisfied the pipeline is safe.

 

“We cannot trust a thing the oil companies say or the government says when they are being hoodwinked,” he said. “People have not got the full story and people have grave suspicions and people will not be happy until there is a true independent assessment.”

 

Minister Dempsey appointed BPA after Shell reactivated its application for consent to install and commission the high-pressure pipeline at Bellenaboy last February.

 

“Let’s not be foolish, there are certain dangers there that nobody can give a definite guarantee on,” added Michael Ring. “It’s a bit like the halting site, everybody wants something done in relation to travellers but nobody wants them beside themselves. It’s the same with the gas. Everybody wants the gas while it’s not affecting them.”

 

Deputies Cowley and Ring have also urged the Government to insist that Shell E&P Ireland build a shallow water offshore terminal on safety grounds.

 

http://www.mayonews.ie/current/news.tmpl$showpage?value1=332661678780923

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