Written Answers - Offshore Exploration.

Wednesday, 15 June 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 604 No. 1

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  155.  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); his views on whether it is better to defer a decision to grant consent to install and commission the Corrib gas pipeline in the interest of the health and safety of the Erris residents; his further views on whether the only option available is an off-shore oil terminal, especially in view of the warning issued by the North Western Regional Fisheries Board concerning silting of the Ballinaboy river, a tributary of Carrowmore lake; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20114/05]

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 developers 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 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 this 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.

A decision on the developers application for consent to install the onshore pipeline is at an advanced stage but is not yet finalised. I will make a decision when I receive the report from the consultant.

The Deputy will be aware that the developers of the Corrib gas field have received approval for the onshore gas terminal at Ballinaboy, County Mayo. This is a statutory approval and there is no [252]question of withdrawing any approvals already given.


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