Gas supply to return 'on phased basis'
Gas supplies in the west of Ireland should return on a phased basis over the weekend, energy chiefs have said.
Odourless natural gas which entered the network through Shell's Corrib gas refinery in Co Mayo is gradually being pumped back to the terminal at low pressure to be burnt off.
It may be tomorrow before the 10,000 or so affected households and businesses will be advised it is safe to reconnect supplies.
Gas Networks Ireland said it recommended users cut supplies using a valve on their meters because the gas could not be detected by smell in the unlikely event of a leak.
It issued an alert on Thursday to customers in parts of Co Galway and Co Mayo.
Yesterday it said supplies in Loughrea, Ballinalsoe and Gort were safe to be switched on.
Natural gas is odourless, colourless and tasteless. A chemical containing sulphur is added to it during the refining process for safety reasons.
It is believed one fifth of a day's supply entered the network from Shell's Bellanaboy terminal without the additive.
It's understood the glitch was discovered by a worker in the refinery.
Shell E&P Ireland said it was the first time the issue has occurred in Mayo. It said a "small quantity" of the odourless gas was in the system. "Work is ongoing to remove a quantity of un-odourised gas, which entered the Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) network," it said.
"Flaring is expected to continue today at the Bellanaboy Bridge Gas Terminal to remove the gas in a safe and controlled manner."
Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring said the issue needs to be investigated immediately by the State agencies to reassure people and businesses.