Shell Ireland Says It Will Re-Route Corrib Gas Pipeline

Dow Jones Newswires

DUBLIN, Aug 03, 2006, Dow Jones Newswires

Royal Dutch Shell PLC's (RDSA) Irish unit said Thursday that it will re-route the long-delayed Corrib gas pipeline across county Mayo in the northwest of Ireland around the town of Rossport.

The move follows a report published last week by a government-appointed mediator between Shell and the local protesters, which recommended that Shell should change its pipeline route away from houses in the area.

Shell said in a statement: "The Corrib Gas partners today confirmed that they will modify the route of the onshore section of the Corrib gas pipeline in the vicinity of Rossport to address community concerns."

The government-appointed mediator Peter Cassells, former head of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said in his report last week that Shell should "modify" the pipeline route near Rossport to address community concerns.

The pipeline - from the EUR850 million-plus Corrib gas field 83 kilometers off Mayo's coast and across 9 kilometers of land - was delayed two years and resulted in the jailing of local protesters known as the "Rossport Five."

Environmental groups and the Rossport Five - five local Mayo men who were jailed for 94 days last year for their campaign to stop the pipeline - say unrefined gas being piped near houses puts several villages at risk.

But Mark Garavan, spokesman for the so-called Sell-to-Sea campaign, said the company needs to still address the processing of its gas 9 kilometers inland and called the move "minor route adjustments."

The Corrib gas field when developed will be produced over 15 and 20 years. The field was discovered in 1996 and was the first significant find offshore Ireland since Kinsale Head in southwest Ireland in 1971.

Shell and its Corrib partners - Norway's Statoil ASA (STO) with 36.5% and U.S.-based Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) with 18.5% - plan to start production in 2007, but oil analysts say it's likely to be in fourth-quarter 2008.

Corrib gas could transform the Irish market, which must rely on imports from the U.K. to meet around 85% its gas needs, according to the International Energy Agency; Shell hopes it will supply 60% of Irish natural gas demand.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. -By Quentin Fottrell, Dow Jones Newswires; +353-1-6762189;