SHELL EP Ireland has welcomed confirmation by a US pipeline expert that there are no serious technical obstacles to ensuring the safety of the Corrib gas refinery project in north Mayo.
However, it has said that moving the Bellanaboy gas terminal is “not an option”.
Shell, lead developer in the Corrib gas project, was responding to comments this week by Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts Inc, an independent investigator of pipeline accidents and author of a review of the controversial gas pipeline, published in late 2005.
Mr Kuprewicz’s assertion in relation to relocation “shows a lack of understanding of Irish planning processes and the statutory scrutiny which underpins every application for major infrastructure”, Shell said.
Mr Kuprewicz participated in an event held by the Afri justice and peace organisation in Erris, Co Mayo, at the weekend.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Kuprewicz said he was “saddened” to see there had been no resolution of the Corrib gas controversy. He said the only obstacle was “trust” and Shell EP Ireland’s willingness to spend money on safe design of existing plans – or relocation of the gas refinery to a coastal site.
“It is not hard to move a gas plant – this is not an oil refinery. The only cost is money, which Shell is not short of,” he said.
His risk analysis on the Corrib gas onshore pipeline, commissioned by the former Centre for Public Inquiry and published in late 2005, noted that there was no fail-safe design for such a high-pressure pipeline.
It said the quantified risk assessment conducted was inappropriate for a “highly unique” high-pressure pipeline, which was “the first of its kind” on this island.
It recommended minimum safe distance from housing was 200-400m. Mr Kuprewicz’s analysis was described at the time as “highly speculative” by Shell, but was referred by the Government’s high-level advisory group on the project to its own consultants, Advantica. The Advantica report agreed with half of the points raised by Mr Kuprewicz, and recommended limiting pressure in the onshore section to 144 bar.
Mr Kuprewicz said he had seen plans to modify the pipeline route, but would like to see design details of Shell’s plan to limit pressure on the onshore section.
Shell has submitted an application for a modified onshore pipeline route to Bord Pleanála.
The appeals board requested additional information and is due to make a decision shortly on an oral hearing, which may be held before the end of the year.
The Irish Times