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Shell seeks tenders for onshore pipeline work

Marian Harrison - Western People

SHELL has sought tenders for the design and construction of the onshore pipeline through Sruwaddacon Bay.

A notice in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) suggests the company has chosen tunnelling over an open-cut trench to lay the pipe, which will carry the gas the 5km journey from the landfall in Glengad to the terminal at Bellanaboy.

The new route will mean the gas pipeline will be going nowhere near the homes of objectors in Rossport.

“We are currently investigating the design of a section of the onshore pipeline through Sruwaddacon Bay with a view to addressing, as fully as possible, all matters raised by An Bord Pleanála in its request for further information,” said a Shell spokesperson.

However, the source was quick to point out that the option was one of a number under consideration and the fact that they are tendering for the service does not mean it will ultimately follow this route.

Shell to Sea spokesperson Terence Conway said the new route might not be going near homes in Glengad, but that was only one of many issues of concern for protesters.

The tender request is Shell’s way of putting pressure on Minister John Gormley to grant them a foreshore licence for investigation work in the Sruwaddacon estuary, he said.

“The fact is a pipe with full well-head pressure will be coming into Glengad. Shell are putting the pipeline out to tender prematurely. Everyone knows you need to know the ground you’re working with before going to tender and the Department of Environment has receiving 190 submission in response to the application by Shell to carry out work in the bay. We have no confidence in Shell’s track record on safety in the past,” said Mr Conway.

Late last year, An Bord Pleanála deemed half of the proposed onshore pipeline was unacceptable on safety grounds and recommended that a route through the water be explored. Planners ruled that the route between Glengad and Aghoose was too close to houses and said it would be appropriate to approve the pipeline development, should alterations be made to the proposal.

Two years ago, RPS engineers, employed by Shell to design the route, ruled out the bay option on environmental and technical grounds as it is a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protective Area. Now the company is preparing an application for the planning board, which must be submitted by the May 31. It is expected to be with planners weeks before the deadline.

Shell’s tender notice requires that companies applying for the work at Sruwaddacon Bay have turnovers of at least €100 million a year.