North Kerry set to lose promised jobs

DONAL NOLAN dnolan@kerryman.ie

SHANNON LNG will pull out of its planned multi million euro Ballylongford landbank project, with the loss of hundreds of jobs for North Kerry, if it is hit with massive charges that are being threatened by the Commissioner for Energy Regulation (CER).

Local supporters are frustrated that the project, which promises 450 jobs in the short term, has already been massively delayed by red tape.

Now Shannon LNG is on the brink of abandoning the longawaited development after learning that it could be charged a possible €10 million a year to use the national gas pipeline network.

The CER has told Shannon LNG it will have to pay to use the gas pipeline that connects Ireland to the UK. The cost could be as much as €10 million a year. Shannon LNG and its parent company Hess LNG see this charge as unsustainable and are considering the future of the project .

Minister Jimmy Deenihan is to face down CER officials in a meeting next week where he will urge the authority to back down on its demands in the interest of creating vital jobs for North Kerry and West Limerick.

"I will be laying it out that I don't agree with them. I think it will have the opposite affect of protecting gas prices. If Shannon LNG get the plant up and operating it will have the effect of reducing energy prices, including electricity. I would hope that this will be resolved for the sake of everyone.

"It is very serious as this is the only real job prospect for North Kerry and West Limerick and there is a committment to pay €20 million to Shannon Development for the land. These people are totally committed to the project and all they want is to compete on the market to bring down the price of gas," Minister Deenihan said.

Contrary to some reports, Hess LNG, which has already invested up to €50 million in Kerry, is not considering moving the project to the UK.

Minister Deenihan has arranged for the company to meet with Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte in the coming week to discuss their concerns.

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