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Irish Times: Corrib gas safety report written by Shell-linked company

Irish Times: Corrib gas safety report written by Shell-linked company

“AEA Technology Ltd, which conducted the review published yesterday by Mr Dempsey, lists four Shell companies including Shell International on its recent client list. The review is the second of safety aspects of the onshore pipeline and was ordered by the Minister after it emerged that the last report was written by British Pipeline Agency (BPA), a company owned jointly by Shell UK and British Petroleum.”

Wednesday Jul 06, 2005

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

A review of safety aspects of the proposed Shell Corrib gas pipeline commissioned by Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey was written by a company which numbers Shell among its clients.

AEA Technology Ltd, which conducted the review published yesterday by Mr Dempsey, lists four Shell companies including Shell International on its recent client list.

The review is the second of safety aspects of the onshore pipeline and was ordered by the Minister after it emerged that the last report was written by British Pipeline Agency (BPA), a company owned jointly by Shell UK and British Petroleum.

The Minister instructed officials to order a further review when this “potential conflict of interest” was drawn to his attention by Shell E&P Ireland, but published the BPA report anyway and maintained in the Dail last week that it was none the less independent.

AEA Technology Ltd is listed as one of the world’s largest engineering consultancies, with offices in Britain and the Middle East. It confirmed to The Irish Times yesterday that one of its divisions compiled the report for the Minister’s department last month.

The department told The Irish Times last night it had asked tendering companies to disclose whether they had carried out any work on the Corrib project, and whether the partners (Shell, Statoil and Marathon) had any ownership interests in their firm.

“AEA Technology clearly expressed to the department that no conflict of interest whatsoever existed for them in conducting this project,” said the department, adding that, given the limited size of the exploration sector in Europe, it was “inevitable than any consultancy firm will have performed tasks for most if not all of the large multinationals”.

In the Dail last week, the Minister said the new review assessed the risk to the public from the operation of the onshore section of the Corrib gas pipeline, and it conformed to international criteria. The review’s publication on his department’s website is a prelude to the probable issuing of full consent for installation and commissioning of the pipeline.

A spokeswoman for the Minister could not say when the consents would be issued, but it is expected that they are imminent. “No decision has been made and none will be made until the matter has been fully considered by the Minister,” the spokeswoman said.

Mention is to be made in the High Court today of an application to have five protesters released on the basis that the full consents for the pipeline had not yet been issued. The application was made by Greg Casey, solicitor, in the light of last week’s statement by the Minister, but it is not expected to be heard today.

Mr Casey does not represent the five jailed men, but represents two people who are parties to the injunction granted to Shell and are not in custody. Mr Padraic Ferry of Ferry Solicitors, who has been engaged by the five men with barristers John Rogers SC and Peter Bland, said no court application had been lodged by him on the men’s behalf.

The AEA review was welcomed by Shell E&P Ireland as endorsing its own risk report or quantified risk assessment. The company reiterated that the €900 million Corrib gas project had been subject to “exhaustive public scrutiny over the course of the last number of years”.

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