Wednesday 23 October 2019

Plans for Shannon gas terminal scaled back as it faces delay

US-owned firm in bid to cut storage as it awaits court ruling

Industry on the Shannon estuary
Industry on the Shannon estuary
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The company behind a planned €500m liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal planned on the Shannon wants to reduce the footprint of the controversial project in a significant move that affects one of the scheme's main elements.

Shannon LNG, owned by US firm New Fortress Energy, said the changes would result in fewer onshore facilities and equipment, and the omission of four onshore storage tanks.

The proposed plant, which would be built at Tarbert in Co Kerry, has been recently referred by the High Court to the European Court of Justice - a move that could delay construction of the scheme for at least two years.

The European Court has been asked to determine if the project needs to be assessed under the EU's Habitats Directive.

Shannon LNG has since entered into a pre-application consultation with An Bord Pleanála.

The company - which already has planning permission for an LNG plant at the site - said it wants to reduce the project's scale, which aside from eliminating the onshore storage tanks, would also see an associated pond for hydrotesting removed.

New Fortress Energy acquired Shannon LNG last year from Sambolo Resources, an Irish company controlled by Paddy Power and John Power.

Sambolo had acquired the project from US investor Hesse in 2015. The scheme floundered more than three years ago when Hesse pulled out, in part because regulators here insisted the company would have to contribute as much as €50m a year to support infrastructure including the cost of interconnectors linking the Irish gas network to supplies from the UK. However, since then a European Union push to slash reliance on gas piped from Russia, and fears about the long-term implication of Brexit, mean such fees are now seen as less likely to be put in place.

Shannon LNG was originally designed to import gas through a three-million-tonnes-a-year terminal, with four LNG storage tanks, each with capacity for 200,000 cubic metres, and a jetty big enough to handle massive Q-max LNG carriers - named because they are the biggest ships that can dock at Qatar's gas terminal.

Shannon LNG also has planning permission to build an associated 500MW combined heat and power (CHP) plant. About €70m had been invested in the project by Hesse.

New Fortress Energy floated on the Nasdaq in new York in January, but its shares have performed poorly since then.

Irish Independent

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