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Irish Times: Statoil says halting gas project ‘not an option’

EXTRACT: It is believed that the company’s unhappiness last year over the jailing of the Rossport Five may have influenced Shell’s decision to drop its temporary injunction against the men.

THE ARTICLE

By: Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent, Irish Times
Published: Nov 28, 2006

The Norwegian energy company Statoil says it is fully committed to the Corrib gas project, and halting work on the terminal is “not an option”.

However, it says that failure by the original developer to communicate with residents in north Mayo was a significant “error” that has created “misunderstandings”, and the situation is now “very difficult”.

The company, which is a partner with Shell and Marathon in the project, was commenting after a meeting between its officials and the head of one of Norway’s largest trade unions on the issue in Dublin yesterday.

Terje Nustad, head of the Norwegian energy workers’ union, Safe, has pledged support for the Shell to Sea campaign, and called on Statoil yesterday to withdraw its involvement in the project.

Safe represents 7,000 workers in the Norwegian energy industry, mainly employed with Statoil but also with Shell.

Mr Nustad spent the weekend in north Mayo and attended yesterday’s early morning protest at the Bellanaboy terminal before travelling to Dublin.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Nustad said the Government here needed to “wake up and take action” in relation to what was happening in north Mayo, and he was “very disappointed” with Statoil’s role, which he believed to be in breach of its ethical values.

“We believe that the Corrib gas partners should stop work on the terminal and try and reach agreement with the local community, and we support the commission of inquiry into the best development concept which has been proposed earlier this month by the Shell to Sea campaign,” he said.

Mr Nustad said his trade union would be raising the issue at a political level in Norway to try and put pressure on both Statoil and Shell.

He was accompanied by Helge Ryggvik,researcher at the University of Oslo, co-author with him of a report on oil resource politics and the partial privatisation of Statoil. An English version of the report was published at NUI, Maynooth yesterday.

Shell E&P Ireland said Mr Nustad had not sought a meeting with it, and it was a matter for Statoil to comment on.

Kai Nielsen of Statoil said the company was committed to implementing the recommendations of the Advantica consultancy report on the onshore pipeline.

Mr Nielsen said safety concerns were based on “misunderstandings” and the fault lay with the original developer, Enterprise Energy Ireland, in failing to communicate with residents.

“That was a big error,” Mr Nielsen said.

It is believed that the company’s unhappiness last year over the jailing of the Rossport Five may have influenced Shell’s decision to drop its temporary injunction against the men.

Siptu and the ATGWU trade unions also met with the Norwegian delegation in Dublin last night. Siptu president Jack O’Connor said afterwards that there had been a useful information exchange, and he would be reporting on the Corrib gas issue to the next executive council meeting early next month.

Meanwhile, RTE has defended the accuracy and fairness of a Prime Time programme on the Corrib gas controversy that was broadcast from Mayo last week.

The programme, which was pre-recorded and edited, included a panel discussion with an invited audience, focusing on results of an opinion poll. The programme has confirmed that one question in the poll was dropped, and this decision was taken because its wording was incorrect.

Dr Mark Garavan of Shell to Sea is to lodge a formal complaint over the programme.

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