Friday, 9 January 2009

Company insists €500m gas pipeline to go ahead

DESPITE reports that work on the building of a €500 million gas terminal on the Shannon Estuary has been delayed for at least a year, the company behind the project yesterday insisted it would go ahead.

Planning objections are among the reasons for pushing back the construction date of the Shannon LNG (liquid natural gas) project, near Tarbert, Co Kerry, according to an American trade magazine.

The starting date for the country’s first LNG terminal was to have been early this year, but it will now be 2010 or 2011, the Texas-based Industrial Info Resources reported.

Shannon LNG, a subsidiary of the US Hess corporation, told the Irish Examiner they were committed to the project, but had a policy of not commenting on speculation. The company has said its terminal will secure the future of Ireland’s gas needs and will supply up to 60% of our natural gas requirements.

The deepwater estuary will enable around 125 tankers to bring gas in a liquified form from all over the world to the terminal, to be erected on a Shannon Development-owned industrial landbank.

When plans were first announced, in 2006, the company’s aim was to have the terminal operational by 2012, or 2013. The terminal, including two giant storage towers, is expected to take four years to construct.

While the project has been widely welcomed in the north Kerry area — one of the country’s unemployment black spots — some local concerns about safety and environmental issues have been voiced at a number of An Bord Pleanála planning hearings.

The project was fast-tracked to An Bord Pleanála as strategic infrastructure last year. A court challenge also followed the decision to grant permission in March, but the case was later dismissed.

At the oral hearings, Shannon LNG moved to ease concerns about the safety of the project and the 25km gas pipeline that will connect the terminal with the national gas grid.

An oral hearing, in Listowel, was told a key condition of planning was that the gas must be moved by pipeline, not road, to link up with the national gas network, near Foynes, Co Limerick.

Leon Bowdoin, engineering vice-president of Shannon LNG, said the pipeline was designed to the same standards as Bord Gáis pipelines, He described risks to people as “insignificant”.

He said pipelines were regarded as the safest and most reliable means of onshore, cross-country transport of large quantities of hazard product.

Mr Bowdoin further stated the pipeline had been routed to avoid centres of population, to minimise road and river crossings and to avoid areas liable to landslides.

Upwards of 600 jobs are expected to be provided during construction and 50 permanent positions when the terminal is in operation.

A planning decision on the pipeline is due by February 18.

Irish Examiner

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