THE Shannon Estuary is on the threshold of a new industrial dawn which promises to transform the entire industrial aspect of the Mid-West and Kerry.
The catalyst will be a new €400 million liquid natural gas (LNG) receiving terminal — the first of its kind in Ireland — planned for a land-bank between Ballylongford and Tarbert on the estuary’s southern tip.
Not only will the facility provide access to new, reliable natural gas supplies from abroad, it also has the potential to lead to the development of a gas-fired electricity station in that area of the estuary.
Shannon LNG Ltd, a subsidiary of Hess LNG, will lodge a planning application in the next two months.
It will be the first project to seek planning permission directly from An Bord Pleanála under new legislation to fast-forward key infrastructural developments.
Under the new act a final planning decision is given within 18 weeks.
The company has held extensive consultative meetings and information evenings with local community leaders and politicians.
Shannon LNG was established by Paddy Power, a native of Tralee, who has more than 35 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry.
Frozen natural gas will be shipped into the terminal in bulk containers and defrosted before being fed into the national grid. Major exporters of frozen LNG include Alaska, Abu Dhabi, Algeria, Australia, Indonesia, Egypt and Trinidad.
If the planning process goes according to the expectations of the promoters, site clearance work will start next year and construction will take about three years.
The facility will be located on 280 acres of a 600- acre land-bank controlled by Shannon Development.
John Brassil, chairman of Shannon Development, said: “This LNG plant will create a whole new industrial zone as we will have a further 300 acres to offer industries which will want to co-locate near the LNG terminal. Experience in other parts of the world shows that gas-powered electricity generating stations are often developed nearby.”
Ned O’Sullivan, a director of Shannon Foynes Port Company which will manage shipping at the terminal, said: “The project has the potential to make a real difference to long-term energy costs in this country as well as delivering significant economic, environmental and employment benefits. It also has the potential to secure Ireland’s long-term supply of natural gas and provide an important economic boost.”