Dáil Éireann - Volume 620 - 30 May, 2006

Written Answers. - Offshore Exploration.

Ms O. Mitchell asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the extent to which all outstanding matters in relation to difficulties surrounding the delivery of supply from the Corrib gas field have been addressed and resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20726/06]

[1123] Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources when he expects the Corrib gas pipeline mediation process led by Mr. Peter Cassells will be concluded; his views on recent comments by Shell on their earlier actions in this dispute; when he will implement the recommendations of the TAG report that he has fully accepted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20624/06]

Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the progress to date in regard to the delivery of supply from the Corrib gas field; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20727/06]

  Mr. N. Dempsey: I propose to take Questions Nos. 74, 128 and 141 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, as a result of local concerns over the safety of the pipeline Corrib gas pipeline, I commissioned a comprehensive independent safety review last August. Following a long and detailed review process, including two separate phases of public consultation, Advantica, the international consultants contracted to do the work, provided me with their report earlier this year. This review found that proper consideration was given to safety issues in the selection process for the design option and route. Moreover, the review found that if a number of additional provisions were made, there will be a substantial safety margin in the design.

The most important of these provisions was that an additional pressure limitation mechanism, to ensure that the pressure in the pipeline can never go above 144bar, be incorporated into the design. Other recommendations included the drawing up of an integrity management plan and the use of PD8010 as the design code for the project.

The Review was published earlier this month, along with a report to me on the Advantica report by my Technical Advisory Group or ’TAG’. This Group accepted the recommendations of the Advantica Report and made a number of recommendations of their own. In turn, I have accepted these recommendations, and any future consents to conduct further work on the project will be dependent upon the developer meeting the requirements set out in these reports.

I also appointed Mr. Peter Cassells, to act as mediator between the various parties. Specific terms of engagement were agreed between the parties for the mediation process and it is ongoing. The developer, Shell, has already [1124] accepted the recommendations made by both Advantica and TAG and has committed itself to cooperating fully with the mediation process. I understand that Shell have also apologised for their role in the jailing of the individuals from the Rossport area, a development I wholeheartedly welcome.

Given the sensitivities involved, I am not willing to comment on the progress of the mediation, however, I remain hopeful that a successful conclusion will be reached without undue delay. I understand that once an outcome has been reached through the mediation process and the additional requirements made of Shell are met, a significant construction period will be required before gas can be brought ashore.

Apart from the huge benefits this will bring to the State as a whole, there will also be significant benefits locally. An Bord Gáis has recently had its new connection policy approved by the energy regulator. This policy will frame a feasibility study of connections to towns in Co. Mayo with a view to providing services as soon as the Corrib field is on stream.