Monday 31 March 2008

Shell denies failing to discuss drilling

SHELL E&P Ireland has denied it failed to consult coastal community interests on planned drilling in a Mayo estuary that is a special area of conservation (SAC).

The company was responding to criticism at the weekend by the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association, which says it was not consulted about the new work programme in the Sruwaddaccon estuary, including use of Ballyglass pier for the project.

Shell and its Corrib gas partners, Statoil and Marathon, have a foreshore licence from Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Mary Coughlan to drill boreholes in Sruwaddaccon Bay, which is an SAC.

The estuary is on a shortlist for a modified pipeline route linking the Corrib gas field offshore with the onshore refinery at Bellanaboy. Survey work by consultants RPS for a modified route was carried out in the estuary last year, but this phase involves "invasive" geotechnical work that was approved under ministerial licence, according to the company.

Eddie Diver, chairman of the Erris Inshore Fishermen's Association, says his organisation was not formally contacted by the Corrib gas developers. A Shell E&P Ireland spokesman said he could not confirm whether fishermen's organisations had been contacted by the developers, but the company had invited public response.

The Irish Times

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