Friday, 27 April 2007

Statoil to discuss Corrib gas project concerns with TDs

Norwegian company Statoil is due to meet a delegation of nine TDs in Dublin
today in relation to concerns about the Corrib gas project. Helge Hatlestad,
senior vice-president of international development and production at Statoil,
will travel to Dublin at the invitation of Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind).
Statoil is a partner with Shell E&P Ireland and Marathon in the project,
currently the subject of an Environmental Protection Agency hearing.
Three Labour Party deputies - party president Michael D Higgins, marine
spokesman Tommy Broughan and Joe Costello - will attend, along with the
Green Party marine spokesman Eamon Ryan, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins
and Independent TDs Tony Gregory, Catherine Murphy, Finian McGrath and
Dr Cowley.
Dr Cowley, who had planned to bring a cross-party group to Norway late last
year, said the meeting was requested in relation to his concerns about the
project and its impact on his constituents.
Dr Cowley's proposal, supported by NUI Seanad candidate Dr Mark Garavan,
for an independent commission to examine the entire project as a "means to a
permanent solution", would also be discussed, he said. Such a solution would
have to have "community consent", he added.
"The fact that Statoil is exploring two areas adjoining the Corrib field, and that
finds from same may feed into the Corrib gas network, makes it all the more
important to find a solution that is safe and that has the support of the local
north Mayo community," Dr Cowley said yesterday. "Nobody is against
bringing gas ashore if it can be done safely."
Last year, Statoil said it was committed to the project, and halting work on the
terminal was "not an option". However, it was critical of a failure by the original
developer to "communicate with residents in north Mayo".
Terje Nustad, head of the Norwegian energy workers' union, SAFE, has
pledged support for the Shell to Sea campaign, following a visit to north Mayo
last year, and called on Statoil to withdraw its involvement in the project.
SAFE represents 7,000 workers in the Norwegian energy industry, mainly
employed with Statoil, but also some with Shell.
Lorna Siggins
© 2007 The Irish Times

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