Business Irish

Monday 22 September 2014

Controversial Corrib field to pump gas by next year

Published 10/04/2014 | 02:30

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The Corrib gas field
The Corrib gas field

SHELL is close to starting production at the Corrib oilfield, the mining giant has revealed.

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The development of the field off the north-west coast has been plagued by setbacks, which have delayed it for more than 13 years.

But the final section of the pipeline that will transport gas to shore has now been installed, operator Shell has revealed.

Construction of a 4.9km tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay, a special conversation area, is also progressing, new company documents show. Development of the tunnel was suspended last year after 26-year-old German hydraulics specialist Lars Wagner was tragically killed, following fatal head injuries sustained while working on it.

Shell had originally planned to build an overground pipe but An Bord Pleanala ruled in 2011 that this would be unsafe, necessitating the construction of the tunnel.

The gas will be pumped through this tunnel, once it is completed, to a refinery where it will be cleaned and depressurised for sale and export. Shell expects the project to start producing gas as early as next year, it said, adding that this should sustain around 175 full-time jobs for the 20-year lifespan of the field.

Mayo natural gas find Corrib was first discovered in 1996. It was originally expected that gas would start flowing from it by 2003, meaning the project is now some 13 years behind the original schedule.

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Reports suggest the cost of developing it has come in around four times as much as original estimates, reaching €3bn. These mounting costs make the project the largest commercial investment by private investors in one single scheme in the history of the State.

Corrib is thought to contain at least 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Shell is the operator of the field, but Statoil and Vermillion also have a stake in it. Shell estimates it has the potential to provide up to three-fifths of Ireland's gas needs, the majority of which are currently imported from the UK.

Irish Independent

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