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Sunday 21 October 2018

Pipelaying leviathan heads for hostile waters

Tom Shiel and  Colin Bartley

A massive pipelaying vessel twice the length of Croke Park will steam this week into the choppy waters of the Corrib gas dispute.

Protestors are promising the Solitaire -- the largest pipelaying vessel in the world -- a hostile reception when it arrives from Killybegs, Co Donegal.

Already there have been skirmishes at Glengad where Shell has employed a "small army" of private security men, backed up by gardai, to protect the landfall area.

At 360m, the Dutch-owned Solitaire can lay between four and seven kilometres of pipeline a day and normally carries a crew of around 400.

Master of the vessel Simon Van Der Plicht said pipelaying would begin in Broadhaven Bay by the second week in August.

Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.

Shell's External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project, adding: "You could describe it as the Corrib armada."

Meanwhile, a fence erected to protect Shell E&P Ireland's onshore work at Glengad Beach in Mayo is being rebuilt because it is in danger of collapsing.

The instability of the fencing has nothing to do with protesters at the site -- it is caused by tides sweeping in and shifting the sands underneath. The fencing is necessary to keep out intruders, Shell claims.

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