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Shell set to dismantle pipeline section next week, says Dempsey

Irish Times: Shell set to dismantle pipeline section next week, says Dempsey

“The Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, has said that Shell E&P is expected to begin work next week on dismantling part of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline that was welded together without proper consent.”: “All development work has ceased on the onshore pipeline due to the ongoing controversy, which has seen five men spend more than 90 days in jail for refusing to purge their contempt of court over a refusal to comply with a High Court injunction obtained by Shell.”

Posted Thursday 29 September 2005

Liam Reid, Political Reporter

Oireachtas committee: The Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey, has said that Shell E&P is expected to begin work next week on dismantling part of the controversial Corrib gas pipeline that was welded together without proper consent.

In a three-hour hearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Mr Dempsey also criticised the Shell to Sea campaign against the pipeline, claiming that its main aim was not the safety of people living beside the pipeline, but a general opposition to the exploitation of offshore gas fields by private companies.

Mr Dempsey has ordered a further safety review, which is being carried out by pipeline consultants Advantica, and which is due to be completed next month.

He also said that despite the safety review he had ordered, he was personally satisfied that the pipeline was being built to the “highest international standards” in terms of safety, and would continue to hold this opinion unless the new review advised to the contrary.

He said that a two-day public hearing, to be headed by senior counsel John Gallagher, would be held in Mayo in two weeks, at which all relevant documentation on the pipeline would be made available.

Mr Dempsey came in for severe criticism by Opposition and Independent TDs over the Government’s handling of the controversy.

All development work has ceased on the onshore pipeline due to the ongoing controversy, which has seen five men spend more than 90 days in jail for refusing to purge their contempt of court over a refusal to comply with a High Court injunction obtained by Shell.

Their supporters have called on Shell E&P to seek to have the injunction lifted, which would see the men released, a move the company has refused to agree to.

Labour’s energy spokesman Tommy Broughan said that Mr Dempsey’s department had failed in its duty to protect the safety of citizens, and criticised the fact that the division within Mr Dempsey’s department which was originally monitoring the pipeline development was staffed by four people or fewer.

Green Party TD Eamon Ryan accused the Government of adopting a “secretive and one-sided” approach to the pipeline, which he said had caused the current controversy.

At the end of July, Mr Dempsey ordered Shell to dismantle three kilometres of the pipeline, which he said had been welded together without ministerial consent.

Last week Shell E&P said it had been unable to gain access to dismantle the pipeline because of protests.

Protesters, however, have said there would be no attempt to block workers.

Yesterday Mr Dempsey told the committee he was hopeful work would begin next week to comply with his order, which would be supervised by his staff. He said environmental protection works also needed to be carried out on part of the pipeline and proposed gas terminal site.

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