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Shell E&P purges contempt in Erris land proceedings

MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2020

Shell E&P purges contempt in Erris land proceedings

Shell E&P Ireland – the former operator of the Corrib Gas project – has been deemed to have purged its contempt of a district court order.

Civil proceedings initiated by Monica Muller, Rossport South, North Mayo against Shell E&P Ire­ land Ltd. Corrib House. 52 Lower Leeson St. Dublin 2 were concluded in Ballina District Court last Fri­day when Judge Fiona Lydon found, in accordance with a Su­preme Court ruling, that the de­fendant company had been in contempt of a court order when it entered commonage lands at Ros­sport and Muingnabo without notification in 2007 and 2008.

Judge Lydon said the defendant had already complied with the requirements of her predecessor Judge Mary Devins, who originally ruled on the issue of contempt.

In light of that and an apology to the court last Friday by the princi­pal of Shell’s successor in the Cor­rib Gas project, Judge Lydon made no further order, deeming that the contempt had been purged. She directed that the issue of costs be de­cided by the defendant and plaintiff and gave liberty to apply in the event of no agreement.

The court heard that the original contempt ruling had been referred to the High Court by way of a case stated. The High Court found in Shell’s favour but Ms Muller was subsequently successful in appeal­ing the High Court’s finding to the Supreme Court. The case came back before Judge Lydon for sen­tencing last Friday.

John Gordon. solicitor for Shell E&P Ireland Ltd. asked that Mr Darcy Kirwan be allowed to give in­formation on the involvement of the current Corrib Gas operating company in respect of the events that led to the contempt of court proceedings. Mr Kirwan explained that he is an engineer and holds the position of managing director of Vermillion E&P Ireland.

Vermillion became a minority partner in the Corrlb Gas project in 2009 after the actions that repre­sented contempt of court. As a mi­nority partner. Vermillion would not have had any influence over Shell E&P Ireland’s operations.

Shell E&P Ireland subsequently sold its interest in the Corrib pro­ject and today Vermillion is one of the three partners involved and owns a 20 per cent stake.

“We are the operators. There are three partners one of which is al­ways nominated as the operator.”

Mr Kirwan stressed that Vermil­lion adopts a collaborative part­nership approach to dealing with its neighbours and has absolute re­spect for any and all orders of the court. He apologised for the actions of Shell E&P Ireland in 2007 and 2008, saying the legal advice was clear that that company should not have gone onto the lands. Mr Kir­wan assured the court it would not happen again.

Mr Gonion said his client was prepared to agree reasonable costs with the applicant and to accept re­sponsibility for those costs.

Judge Lydon said the proceed­ings were technical and academic and covered uncharted territory. She cornplimented Mr Kirwan’s at­titude and said it might be of some solace to the plaintiff that there are different people at the helm of the company now.

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Shell E&P found to be in contempt of court order

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