"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
The epicentre for Wednesday’s earthquake off Mayo was closer to an area licensed to Providence Resources than to the Corrib gas field.
The latitude and longitude pinpointed by the British Geological Survey shows the magnitude-four quake, which occurred 60km west of Belmullet, was in the Slyne basin area, where Providence has two licences. However, the Department of Energy would not comment publicly yesterday, and Providence was unavailable for comment.
Providence and British firm First Oil were granted the licences in prospects between 10km and 20km south of Corrib last year. The company has described the new acreage as having “exciting gas potential”. Shell EP Ireland has said it has “no reason to believe” the earthquake had “any impact” on it.
NUI Galway geologist Mike Williams said: “The gas field is a tiny part of the Slyne basin, but there’s always a possibility that an event like this could liberate gas uncontrollably, at some cost to the developer. Magnitude four is not negligible.”