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Irish Times: Shell to decide shortly when it will lay offshore pipeline

Irish Times: Shell to decide shortly when it will lay offshore pipeline

“The world’s largest pipelaying vessel, the 285m (935ft) Solitaire, has been booked for August 15th but the company is expected to meet stiff resistance from supporters of the five men if the ship enters Mayo waters.”

Wednesday 3 August 2005

Shell E&P Ireland is expected to decide “shortly” when it will start laying the high-pressure offshore gas pipeline to the Corrib gas field, after receiving permission yesterday from the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey to start the work, writes Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent.

The latest consent, which was criticised yesterday by supporters of the five Mayo men still in Cloverhill Prison, represents a setback for the campaign to have an offshore terminal built at sea.

However, Mr Dempsey said Shell could still apply to construct an offshore terminal. “This is a matter for the company,” he said. “I am bound by the plan of development sanctioned in 2002.”

The world’s largest pipelaying vessel, the 285m (935ft) Solitaire, has been booked for August 15th but the company is expected to meet stiff resistance from supporters of the five men if the ship enters Mayo waters.

The Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association said last night it would exercise its right to fish in Broadhaven Bay and would not co-operate with Shell while the men are still in jail.

“Effectively, this means we are considering a blockade,” Eddie Diver, chairman of the association, told The Irish Times.

“It is devastating that the Minister should have given this sanction before he has investigated the safety concerns of residents in relation to the onshore pipeline,” Mr Diver added.

Legal advisers for Shell were yesterday examining the Minister’s consent, which allows for possible amendments once his safety review of the onshore pipeline is published.

The Minister defended his decision last night and said he had not been subjected to any undue pressure by Shell over this phase of the seven-phase consent procedure. The company was “very anxious” to go ahead with the offshore pipeline when it had lodged its application for this phase in June, but he had sought additional information and legal advice before giving approval, the Minister said.

The move is also expected to heighten opposition in north Mayo.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tim Quinn said he had the support of all his Fianna Fáil colleagues in the constituency on the need for an offshore terminal. Welcoming the Minister’s decision, Shell said it provided “an important reassurance of certainty in the regulatory process”.

The Minister said the project was “strategically important for Ireland in terms of enhancing security of gas supply. This is the second largest inward investment project into Ireland, estimated investment of almost €1 billion.”

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