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“Less controversial now”

By: 
Ellen kongsnes - Aftenbladet

Statoil is aware that the Corrib project has been controversial, but point out that Shell is operator for the development.

Aftenbladet has requested an interview with Statoil CEO Helge Lund about the company's experiences regarding Ireland, but information manager Bård Glad Pedersen points out that they are not operator of the Corrib field. Mr Lund will not be making a statement, as a result.

Mr Pedersen finds it important to underline that Shell is operator, and is thus ultimately responsible for the development.

“Of course we’ve been following the demonstrations and past actions, and are familiar with that the project has been controversial locally. But it’s grounded in licences issued by the Irish authorities,” says Mr Pedersen.

He points out that the final solution for the Corrib project means that a different route for the gas pipeline on land was chosen to the one originally approved, and this answers local concerns.

Undesired gulf

Was the solution chosen to appease the locals, not because Statoil believes it is safer?

“Irish authorities did not turn down the original solution, but we have been committed to finding solutions that better answer local concerns. This is what the new one does.”

But you do not wish to say whether it is safer?

“There’s no basis for saying that the original solution wasn’t. However, we have focused on finding solutions in dialogue with the local population.”

Mr Pedersen believes that a project being more expensive and delayed is “not desirable”.

“But we’ve put new fields corresponding to 400,000 barrels per day into production since 2011. Overall, delivery is ahead of time and under budget.

Is it a problem for Statoil that the local population in Rossport has reacted so strongly?

“The project is based in the Irish government's desire to develop the field. But it is not desirable that a project is as controversial as this has been. It’s positive the new route for the pipeline is less controversial than the previous solution.

“Completely sure”

Shell E & P Ireland communications director Denise Horan stressed that the state has regretted the role the company had in the imprisonment of ‘The Rossport Five’ in 2005, but the relationship with the locals is much better now.

Shell believes that the Corrib project has already contributed a lot to the community. Ms Horan notes that it now has 1,100 employees, of which almost 600 are from the region, and that the field will provide fulltime employment for 174 people when in production. Moreover, she points out that the Corrib project has created a lot of business for local subcontractors and accommodation places.

Paid a lot to the community

"We have contributed over EUR 6 million (NOK 45 million) to the local community, voluntary organisations and sports clubs through our investment programme. We also supported 61 local students via a scholarship," she wrote in an email.

The Corrib project underwent an independent review after the imprisonment of ‘The Rossport Five’ in 2005. Shell notes that the review concluded that the gas pipeline met, and in many cases exceeded all international safety standards. The oil company points out that they still agreed to lower the pressure in the pipeline and find a new route despite this.

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Posted Date: 
26 May 2013