Last weekend two jack-up barges were successfully brought into the bay. The barges are equipped with small drilling rigs and the work on the first borehole commenced on Tuesday. The work is scheduled to continue until around mid October.

SEPIL was granted a foreshore licence by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to drill boreholes as part of the preparatory investigations required for the construction of a tunnel under the bay. The tunnel proposal was submitted to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in response to the Board’s request that the Corrib Gas Partners consider a route through Sruwaddacon Bay.

Also, as part of the 2010 offshore works programme, SEPIL has commenced rock placement along short sections of the offshore pipe which could not be trenched last year. These sections of the pipeline will be secured by placing graded rock along and over the pipe. This is done using two bulkhead carriers which transport the rock and a specialised vessel which places the rock over the pipe.

At the Corrib field, 80kms offshore, the installation of the final spoolpiece which connects the central manifold to the offshore pipeline, was completed and successfully tested in early July.

The complex operation involved laying the spoolpiece, a 77.5m long zig-zag section of pipe, weighing 36 tonnes, in a delicate operation between the manifold and pipeline end. Once in place, underwater robots, deployed from the installation vessel, used specialist tooling to connect the termination assemblies on the ends of the spoolpiece to the manifold and the pipeline.

The combined weight of the spoolpiece and the lifting frame was 100 tonnes and a special installation vessel – The Wellservicer – which has an unique crane design that incorporates two independent cranes mounted on a single revolving pedestal, was used to execute the lift.

Sub-sea Project Engineer, St. John Read said months of preparation had gone into the spoolpiece installation. “All the planning paid off and the entire operation went smoothly and safely,” he said.

Meanwhile, an agreement was reached recently with the two fishing organisation in Erris for the facilitation of SEPIL’s offshore works programme in 2010/2011.

Mr Éamonn Ó Duibhir, Chairman of EIFA said “Our members are happy that this agreement acknowledges our members’ fishing rights in the Broadhaven Bay area. It allows all parties to work together during the final phases of the Corrib offshore works programme over the next two years.“

ELCRA Chairman Mr William Walker, also expressed the satisfaction of his members. “We have built up a positive working relationship with Shell in the last three seasons and this two-year agreement is a reflection of the strengthening of that relationship. It facilitates both the fishermen and the Corrib project equally,” he said.