Written Answers - Offshore Exploration.

Tuesday, 14 June 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 603 No. 6

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  333.  Dr. Cowley  Information on Jerry Cowley  Zoom on Jerry Cowley   asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   the reason independent consultants hired by his Department to review the safety of the Corrib gas onshore pipeline are part-owned by the project’s major shareholder (details supplied); if he will defer any decision to grant consent to install and [1693]commission the Corrib gas pipeline in the interest of the health and safety of the Erris residents; if the only option available is an offshore oil terminal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19199/05]

Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I gave a commitment in the Dáil in March 2005 to undertake a review of the developer’s quantified risk assessment, QRA, for the Corrib gas field upstream onshore pipeline. Tenders for the QRA were invited from four companies with requisite competencies. The company which was successful following this tendering process was British Pipeline Agency Limited, BPA.

Following media queries on 25 May 2005, my Department became aware that the company selected to undertake the QRA review is owned jointly by BP Oil UK Limited and Shell UK Oil Limited. Notwithstanding the fact that BP Oil UK and Shell UK Oil Limited own the company jointly, BPA remains of the view that there is no conflict of interest. While I accept that BPA has completed the review in a fully professional and objective manner, I remain conscious of the association of Shell UK Oil Limited with BPA by means of its 50% ownership of the company, and I regret that this situation ever arose. In the interest of ensuring confidence in the independence of the process of evaluation of the safety aspects of the pipeline as addressed by the QRA version F, and considering the public concerns and sensitivities on the issue, I instructed officials of my Department to initiate a further review of the QRA. I can confirm that my Department has engaged a consultant to carry out a further review of the QRA and that the consultant’s report, when to hand, will be put into the public domain.

A decision on the developer’s application for consent to install the onshore pipeline is at an advanced stage but is not yet finalised. I will make a decision when the report has been assessed.

  334.  Mr. Gogarty  Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty   asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources  Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey   the number of natural gas-related explosions which have taken place in the past ten years on a yearly basis. [19207/05]

Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  I am advised by Bord Gáis Éireann which maintains such records that the number of such explosions in the last ten years is as follows.

Year Number of explosions
1995 1
1996 2
1997 2
1998 1
1999 1
2000 3
2001 2
2002 2
2003 1
2004 0
Total 15


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