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North Sea gas leak vindicates locals’ fears

7 April 2012

— As the gas leak at the Elgin platform in the North Sea enters its thirteen day, Mayo residents again highlight the dangers of locating a raw gas pipeline in their community. —

Total oil’s Elgin platform in the North Sea has now been leaking gas for thirteen days, with the platform having been fully evacuated for the last twelve days. Yesterday a team of eight were the first workers to re-enter the platform in-order to carry out a brief survey and data-gathering mission to facilitate an attempt to stop the gas leak.  Estimates of when the gas leak could be stopped range from a number of weeks to over six months.  Total have evacuated all 238 staff from the platform, and Shell has evacuated 120 staff from rigs 7km away. [1]

Commenting on the gas leak, Shell to Sea Spokesperson Terence Conway stated “Shell shut down and partially evacuated it’s platform which was over 7km from the gas leak, yet they have tried to say that people living just over 200 metres from a high pressure raw gas pipeline are safe.  We still don’t know what the  evacuation radius would be, if there was a gas leak at Shell’s planned pressure reduction facility at Glengad”.

“The incident in the North Sea clearly shows that accidents can happen, despite all this technology supposedly being designed to be fail-safe. The community here is being put in needless danger, yet our fears are continually being ignored by both Shell and the State.

At the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing into the onshore pipeline Shell admitted that, in the event of a leak, houses within 230 metres of the pipeline could burn spontaneously from heat radiation.

Commandant Patrick Boyle who worked as the Chief Instructor at the Army Ordnance School, has given evidence in the An Bord Pleanala oral hearing, that the separation distance between the pipeline and the nearest homes isn’t anywhere near adequate. He stated that the separation distance should be at least 500 metres.[1]

Mr Conway continued “It has been shown from the North Sea that oil companies including Shell are failing to  maintain safety critical equipment and using this equipment for far longer than it was designed, all to save money.  With regard to Corrib, we have already seen the way that Shell left the onshore pipes lying rusting for the last 10 years without proper maintainace.”[3]


For more information contact:
Terence Conway:
Maura Harrington:!/ShellToSea


[1]Total gas leak: Team assesses leak at Elgin platform in North Sea – BBC News

[2] Expert warns on risks of explosion – Irish times

[3] Safety check backlog at UK oil rigs – Reuters…

The Shell to Sea Campaign has three main aims:
1) That any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks.

2) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted.

3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.

*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of recoverable oil and gas in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2010 of $79, this works out at $790 billion, or €580 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south & east coasts or inland. The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.


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