Shell in pipeline ‘PR exercise’
Shell in pipeline ‘PR exercise’

An announcement by Shell OIl that the controversial Corrib gas pipeline is to be re-routed has not impressed residents of the Rossport area of County Mayo.

The nine-kilometre stretch of unusually high pressure gas pipe from the offshore gas field to an inland refinery had been planned to pass beneath the properties of a number of Rossport residents.

Five of the protestors were jailed for 94 days last year after refusing to obey a court-ordered injunction to allow the oil giant begin the pipeline’s construction. The men became known as the Rossport Five.

Shell suspended work on the pipeline after the company admitted breaching the terms of its planning consents and was forced to carry out a safety audit.

Shell claimed it had responded to the local concerns.

It said its decision meant it would “review” the legal proceedings it was taking against the protesters, but did not sdaty it would end the controversial injunction.

Dr Mark Garavan of the Shell-to-Sea campaign said that the route change did not address the central problem of where the gas would be processed.

“The problem is that Shell are in complete denial about the problem that they face.

“The processing of the gas is occurring nine kilometres inland, and it is that design flaw - not addressed in today’s statement - which is causing the need to bring the production pipeline inevitably through populated areas,” Dr Garavan said.

Instead Shell had decided for public relations purposes to move part of the route a few yards and effectively “proceed with the project unamended”, he said.

“Minor route adjustments of the pipeline within the existing corridor within Rossport falls woefully short of what is required to resolve the problem,” Dr Garavan said.

Shell’s ‘review’ of its court proceedings against six protesters was probably motivated by a ruling last Monday requiring the release of Shell documents, Dr Garavan added.

Shell say they have based their latest move on the contents of a report produced by Peter Cassells, a mediator between Shell and a recently published Independent Safety Review.

Rossport Five member Vincent McGrath says he had little faith in Peter Cassells.

“What Shell wants to do is turn this pristine area into an Niger Delta industrial complex. Peter Cassells has no expertise in this area whatsoever, he owns a private consultancy service. Who is more likely to give him a contract when all this is over?”

Sinn Féin spokesman on natural resources, Martin Ferris, supported the claim, saying the company wanted to avoid objectors getting possession of key information.

“It confirms what many of us believe; that the entire deal regarding the Corrib field stinks to high heaven. The fact that Shell is willing to abandon its campaign of intimidation rather than shed any light into this dark corner speaks for itself,” Mr Ferris said.

Meanwhile, campaigners are intensifying their protest against the proposed gas pipeline, embarking on a “long walk” from Rossport to Dublin to highlight the group’s safety concerns.

Walkers set out from Rossport on July 29 and are expected to arrive in Dublin on August 12.

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© 2006 Irish Republican News