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Indymedia: Shell’s Rossport Pipeline

Monday, Oct. 30, 2006 at 9:32 PM

Detailed description of the issues surrounding the pipeline Shell wish to build through Rossport, a small village in the north west of Mayo.

Shell’s pipeline through Rossport is extraordinarily dangerous:

As acknowledged by Minister Dempsey in a written Dail reply to Deputy Michael Ring, it is unparalleled not only within Ireland but within Europe or elsewhere.

It will have a rated pressure of 345 Bar (5,000 lb/sq/in) and a normal working pressure of 150 Bar in contrast to Bord Gais Eireann maximum norms of 70 Bar (1,000 lb/sq/in).

These dangers will be compounded enormously because it will transport raw gas mixed with condensate oil and water which will frequently form large obstructive ‘slugs’.

These ‘slugs’ will build up over the 92km distance from the gasfield and may attain unmanageable proportions.

This 92 km tie-back distance for raw gas is at the very limit of off-shore tie-back technology so it is essentially experimental and risk prone.

Frequent ramping up and down of supply, which three-way consortium ownership requires, will greatly increase the tendency for obstructive ‘slugs’ to form.

Normal practice is to refine raw gas close to the gasfield, after which it can be transported for unlimited distances at much reduced pressures and without any formation of ‘slugs’.

In this context of exceptional and dangerous circumstances adjacent residents have a right and a duty to defend their families and property by every lawful way open to them since:

The Health and Safety Authority disclaim any jurisdiction for ensuring the safety and well-being of people living along this 9km shore-to-terminal section of pipeline.

There is no state agency with specific responsibility for such safety, though the Minister concerned states that his Department takes responsibility despite any evidence of infrastructure for doing so, as revealed by several Dail Questions.

The Minister’s Department has consistently refused to give access to the Risk Assessment (QRA) report prepared in 2001 for this section of the pipeline despite repeated requests by local residents and Dail Deputies both in the Dail and in the media.

Such refusals serve to confirm and increase well-founded fears and distrust.

The Minister’s Department also refused initially to reveal any information about the pipeline expert commissioned to evaluate the shore-to-terminal section of pipeline in 2002 and such information was obtained only recently by means of Dail Question;

This report was central to the Minister’s grant of Consent for the construction of the pipeline yet it contains many worrying statements and apparent contradictions;

Foremost among these is that the pipeline will not conform to any single internationally recognised standard for pipelines though several are identified and discussed.

Despite acknowledging that “it is not normal practice for sections of one code to be substituted by sections from another” this report goes on to state: “The on-shore pipeline design basis document states that where the BS 8010 code is non-specific or ambiguous reference shall be made to IGE/TD/1 and ASME B31.8”;

BS 8010 became obsolete within a short time of the expert’s report being completed in 2002 and its intended withdrawal was well-known in advance:

Cumulatively these facts warrant urgent fears by local residents in light of the obstructive secrecy about essential information regarding the safety of people and property.

From the outset, bullying and intimidation have been practised by Shell and the Minister:

While taking great pains to appear outwardly helpful a very ugly side has been shown where land-owners did not readily comply with their demands:

Notice to apply for Compulsory Acquisition Orders was served in the week before Christmas (17th Dec.) 2001 showing extreme disregard for decency and propriety.

Of the 35 plot holders involved none agreed to Shell’s demands prior to its application for Compulsory Acquisition Orders, whereas 28 (80%) did so after the CAO.

The seven who did not agree accounted for 50% of the land required, while the 28 who consented accounted for the other 50%.

It is reasonable to conclude that those with a smaller interest or who were less well-informed signed, while those with a greater interest or were better informed did not; and at that early stage very little information had filtered down regarding the potential dangers involved, especially in regard to the shore-to-terminal section of the pipeline.

Also, the recent urgency created by Shell is dubious and misrepresents the facts:

Notices granting Compulsory Acquisition Orders were signed by the Minister during May and June 2002 amidst election commotion and while the Dail was dissolved.

Oral Hearings were denied in respect to both the pipeline Consent and in respect to the Compulsory Acquisition Order, the former unreasonably, the latter illegally.

Notices of Entry issued at that time were not acted upon then nor in the course of the following two and a half years despite due practice.

It is only within the last several weeks that Shell has sought to gain entry claiming it could not do so earlier while awaiting the necessary permission for the terminal.

Yet, an equally essential permission for an IPPC licence from the Environmental Protection Agency is still awaited, and there is no certainty that it will be granted.

Likewise, the shore-to-terminal section of pipeline is not an essential prerequisite to laying the remaining 90% of the gasfield pipeline which is off-shore, and it will be at least two and a half years before the overall gasfield-to-terminal pipeline is due for commissioning, as currently proposed, in late 2007.

For these reasons the recent urgency created by Shell about the shore-to-terminal section of pipeline is artificial and contrived and suggests purposes other than those stated.

This is typical of the on-going pattern of alternate intimidation and cajolment as experienced from the outset, with intimidation clearly to the fore at present;

The cost-of-delay argument put forward by Shell attempts to create the impression that ‘might is right’ and so make their ‘big’ interest seem all important despite the fact that:

They entered into those contracts and commenced this work without any certainty that they would obtain the outstanding essential IPPC licence from the EPA.

Such high-risk, self-inflicted jeopardy does not give them a right to bulldoze their way over the rights of people concerned for their families’ safety, welfare and property;

Our Constitution is very specific regarding the rights of individuals while a corporation at best piggy-backs on such rights through the legal fiction of being recognised as a person.

It is ironic (and unconstitutional) in this light that one of the world’s largest corporations should use its immense financial power to walk over the rights of ordinary people.

Shell’s parent company recently announced annual profits equivalent to Euro18 billion, which represents Euro50 million per day or Euro2 million per hour.

To date Shell has only ever revealed costs of this project, never the value of the gas reserves which at current prices would be in excess of $5 billion.

This potential revenue would be free of royalties or shared state ownership, and all of its total projected investment of E800 million may be off-set against its tax liability.

This asset, which belonged to the Irish people until recently, affords Shell ample scope for development in a manner safe for people and their environment – that is, off-shore.

www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=69893

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