A new gas-processing technology, used by Shell offshore in Malaysia, was
debated at the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) hearing into the
issuing of an integrated pollution prevention control licence.
An expert witness for Shell E&P Ireland argued that the innovative Twister
technology, which condenses and separates water from hydrocarbons and
natural gas, was not suitable for the remote Corrib field and would not reduce
the overall "footprint" of the project.
Shell senior process engineer, James McBrien, said that Corrib's hostile
conditions, coupled with drilling requirements, made it impractical to use the
technology on an unmanned field.
"Given the gas composition, and when environmental and safety impacts are
considered, a subsea tieback to an onshore gas processing facility is the best
available technique for developing the Corrib field," said Mr McBrien in his
He was responding to an objection which argued that Shell had a
responsibility to inform the EPA of Twister and as to "why it had not been
considered" for Corrib.
Micheál Ó Seighín, one of the Rossport Five, asked Mr McBrien if he would
accept that this alternative was best for the community.
"I'm not in a position to comment on your valid concerns," said Mr McBrien.
Shell to Sea campaigner John Monaghan asked Corrib project manager Gerry
Costello had Shell ever considered offshore, unmanned platforms at the
concept stage and their positive impact on levels of emissions.
Mr Costello said it would have been discussed but the consideration was not
mentioned in the environmental impact statement, which outlined the
suitability of the onshore option.
He also said that "emissions from a shallow-water platform were considered
to be considerably higher than from an onshore platform".
Aspects of Shell's security of supply of Corrib gas were also challenged.
© The Irish Times