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Irish Times: Statoil rejects investigative commission

Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent,
Published: Apr 26, 2007

Norwegian energy company Statoil has said that it cannot support political calls for an independent commission to evaluate the entire Corrib gas project in north Mayo.

The company was commenting after a meeting between four of its senior executives and a seven-strong delegation of Labour, Green Party, Socialist Workers Party and Independent TDs in Dublin yesterday over the controversial project.

Statoil is partner with Shell E&P Ireland and Marathon in developing the Corrib field some 65km off the Mayo coastline. An integrated pollution licence for the onshore refinery is the subject of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oral hearing in Belmullet, Co Mayo.

The independent commission has been proposed by Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley, NUI Seanad candidate Dr Mark Garavan, and has the backing of Labour, the Green Party, Sinn Fein, SWP and Independent deputies and Senators.

The grouping believes that commission would represent the first examination of the project in its entirety, as up to now it had been the subject of “project splitting” to gain various State consents. It would examine the “optimum development concept” for refining gas from the Corrib field off Mayo – with emphasis on community consent for same.

Dr Cowley said that it was “essential to find an acceptable solution, given Statoil’s plans to drill north of the Corrib field this summer and to tap into the existing Corrib gas infrastructure”.

Helge Hatlestad, senior vice-president of Statoil, travelled to Dublin for yesterday’s meeting in the International Financial Services Centre.

Company spokesman Kai Nielsen said that the meeting was “very open”, but Statoil could not see the value in a “further investigation of this project by some committee”, given the delays it had already encountered.

Dr Cowley said there had been a “very frank exchange of views”, but said that he was under the impression that Statoil “was not ruling out an independent commission”.

The company made it clear that its primary responsibility was towards its shareholders, he added.

Terje Nustad, head of the Norwegian energy workers’ union SAFE, has pledged support for the Shell to Sea campaign and has called on Statoil to withdraw from the project. SAFE represents 7,000 workers in the Norwegian energy industry. and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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