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Bloomberg: Shell Wins Conditional License for Irish Gas Refinery (Update2)

By Fergal O’Brien

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s proposed natural-gas refinery in western Ireland should be granted a license, subject to certain conditions, the country’s Environmental Protection Agency said.

“Emissions from the refinery, when operated in accordance with the conditions of the proposed license, will not adversely affect human health or the environment,” the Wexford, Ireland- based agency said today.

Shell, Europe’s largest oil company by market value, has been embroiled in a battle with local residents that has delayed work on the refinery, located in Bellanaboy, near Rossport, for more than a year. The residents also oppose a pipeline needed to link the facility with the $1.1 billion offshore Corrib field.

Five Rossport residents spent 94 days in jail last year for obstructing construction of the pipeline. Shell has agreed to re- route the pipe away from people’s homes in a bid to end opposition, but the protesters still want the gas processed off the coast rather than piped ashore.

Shell has said it can’t locate the processing plant offshore because the field, which will be able to supply 60 percent of Ireland’s gas needs over the next two decades, is too deep and the sea too rough. The company’s partners in the project are Statoil ASA and Marathon Oil Corp.

The companies are “committed to building and operating a world class facility at Bellanaboy in partnership with the local community,” John Egan, a spokesman for Shell in Dublin, said in an e-mailed statement. “All decisions around the project are taken with due concern for the protection of the environment.”

The conditions that will be imposed on the refinery include “strict control” of emissions and the handling and disposal of waste materials. The environmental protection agency said it will now begin a 28-day public consultation on its proposed granting of a license before making a final decision.

“There is a long way to run in this,” Mark Garavan, a spokesman for the opponents, said in an interview on RTE Radio, referring to an ongoing High Court case and national elections due in less than six months. “Safety issues, democracy issues and natural resources issues will loom large” in the election, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fergal O’Brien in Dublin at [email protected] .

Last Updated: January 26, 2007 08:04 EST

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