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Corrib Natural Gas General Overview
The Corrib gas project is one of the most significant engineering projects ever undertaken in Ireland. Located some 83 kilometres off the northwest coast of County Mayo, this medium sized gas field will be developed as a subsea ‘tie-back’ facility, connected by a pipeline to an onshore processing terminal located approximately 9 kilometres inland.
The Corrib Field was discovered in 1996 by Enterprise Oil which established Enterprise Energy Ireland Limited to bring the Corrib field to production. Enterprise Oil was acquired by the Shell group in 2002 and Enterprise Energy Ireland Limited changed name to Shell E&P Ireland Limited.
The Corrib Gas Partners are Shell E&P Ireland Limited (45% - Operator), Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Limited (36.5%) and Vermilion Energy (18.5%).
The Corrib development is made up of four components:
- The offshore well and sub-sea infrastructure;
- The offshore pipeline and umbilical;
- The onshore pipeline and umbilical connecting the offshore pipeline and umbilical to the terminal; and
- The gas terminal at Bellanaboy Bridge.
The offshore sub-sea infrastructure, the offshore pipeline, and the terminal at Bellanaboy are substantially completed. Construction of the onshore pipeline, which includes a tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay is now well under way. The laying of the offshore umbilical between the landfall at Glengad and the Corrib subsea manifold was completed summer 2013.
The Corrib onshore pipeline project became the centre of controversy in 2005 when a number of local people refused to allow Shell E&P Ireland Limited (SEPIL) access to areas along the then permitted pipeline route in Rossport. Arising from legal proceedings taken by SEPIL, five local people were jailed by the High Court for contempt. They spent 94 days in jail.
During this time work on the Bellanaboy terminal site was suspended. In an effort to resolve the standoff, the Government appointed international consultants, Advantica, to conduct an independent safety review of the onshore pipeline. Their report, published in May 2006, concluded that “proper consideration was given to safety issues in the selection process for the preferred design option and the locations of the landfall, pipeline and terminal”.
The Advantica Report made a number of recommendations, including a recommendation limiting the pressure in the onshore section of the pipeline to 144 bar - less than half the original design pressure of the pipeline.
Also in 2005, the (then) Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources appointed an independent mediator, Mr Peter Cassells who recommended that the route of the onshore section of the Corrib Gas Pipeline be modified to increase the distance between the pipeline and local houses. The Corrib Gas Partners accepted this recommendation and appointed RPS consultants in early 2007 to identify reroute the onshore pipeline and develop a suitable modified route.
Work recommenced on the Bellanaboy Bridge gas terminal in October 2006. Community support, which had been tentative following the jailings, grew as the benefits of local content became evident. Throughout the terminal construction phase close to 50% of the workforce, at any given time, was from Erris and Mayo. Other community benefits were delivered through the Corrib Natural Gas 3rd Level Scholarship Programme, the Local Grants Programme and the Erris Development Fund which had a €5 million upfront budget.
RPS identified an alternative route which doubled the distance from housing, and SEPIL applied for modified development consents on the basis of this. In 2010 An Bord Pleanála gave approval, under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, to SEPIL on behalf of the Corrib Gas Partners for the construction of the onshore pipeline. This permission included the construction of a 4.8km tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay and directed that a Community Gain Investment Fund be established to benefit the communities most impacted by the project. The Fund was to be financed by the Partners, to a total of €8.5 million, over five years.
The Corrib Gas Partners, through Shell as Operator, continues to seek dialogue with members of the local community and are committed to being good neighbours throughout the lifetime of the project.
Construction workers at Bellanaboy Terminal
In late 2007, Goodbody Economic Consultants carried out an assessment of the project. They concluded that Corrib would create over 800 jobs during the construction phase. This projection has proved conservative and currently (summer 2013) there are up to 1,200 working on the project. It is expected that there will be up to 175 full time job equivalents during the operations phase.
An additional important benefit of the Corrib Gas Project is that 12 towns in Mayo and Galway have been connected to the national gas grid by connection to Bord Gais Networks Mayo Galway gas pipeline which will carry gas from the terminal to the gas ring main. At peak production Corrib Gas is capable of meeting up to 60% of the Ireland’s gas need providing the country with a secure energy supply for up to twenty years.
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