Skip to main content

Shell’s Fearsome Rossport Pipeline – June ‘05

Shell’s Awesome Rossport Pipeline – June ‘05
Shell’s pipeline through Rossport is extraordinarily dangerous:


  • as acknowledged by Minister Dempsey in a written Dail reply to Deputy Michael Ring, it is unparalleled not only within Ireland but within Europe or elsewhere;

  • it will have a rated pressure of 345 Bar (5,000 lb/sq/in) and a normal working pressure of 150 Bar in contrast to Bord Gais Eireann maximum norms of 70 Bar (1,000 lb/sq/in)City pipelines have 4 Bar max. home lines0.2 Bar.;

  • these dangers will be compounded enormously because it will transport raw gas mixed with condensate oil and water which will frequently form large obstructive ‘slugs’;

  • these ‘slugs’ will build up over the 92km distance from the gasfield and may attain unmanageable proportions;

  • this 92 km tie-back distance for raw gas is at the very limit of off-shore tie-back technology so it is essentially experimental and risk prone;

  • frequent ramping up and down (i.e. stop-start)of supply, which three-way consortium ownership requires, will greatly increase the tendency for obstructive ‘slugs’ to form;

  • normal practice is to refine raw gas close to the gasfield, after which it can be transported for unlimited distances at much reduced pressures and without any formation of ‘slugs’.

Residents have a duty to defend their families and property by every lawful way open to them

  • the Health and Safety Authority disclaim any jurisdiction for ensuring the safety and well-being of people living along this 9km shore-to-terminal section of pipeline;

  • there is no state agency with specific responsibility for such safety, though the Depart. of Marine claims to accept responsibility despite having any infrastructure for doing so, as answers to several Dail Questions have revealed;

  • the Minister’s Department has consistently refused to give access to the Risk Assessment (QRA) report prepared in 2001 for this section of the pipeline despite repeated requests by local residents and TDs in both the Dail and in the media;

  • such refusals serve to confirm and increase well-founded fears and distrust;

  • the Department also refused to reveal any information about the pipeline expert commissioned to evaluate the shore-to-terminal section of pipeline in 2002, and some information was obtained only recently by means of Dail Question;

  • this expert’s report was central to the Minister’s grant of Consent for the construction of the pipeline though it contains many worrying statements and apparent contradictions;

  • foremost among these is that the pipeline will not conform to a ny one recognised standard for pipelines because no single code of practice applies to these extraordinary circumstances;

  • despite acknowledging that 'it is not normal practice for sections of one code to be substituted by sections from another' it asserts: 'The on-shore pipeline design basis document states that where the BS 8010 code is non-specific or ambiguous reference shall be made to IGE/TD/1 and ASME B31.8';

  • BS 8010 became defunct and was replaced within a short time of the expert’s report being completed in 2002 which eventuality was well-known in advance:

  • cumulatively these facts justify urgent fears by local residents in light of the obstructive secrecy regarding essential information in respect to the safety of people and property.

Bullying and intimidation have been practised by Shell and the Dept from the outset,:

  • while taking great pains to appear outwardly helpful, a very ugly side has been shown whenever land-owners did not readily comply with their demands;

  • notice to apply for Compulsory Acquisition Orders was served in the week before Christmas (17th Dec.) 2001 showing extreme disregard for decency and propriety;

  • of the 35 plot holders involved none agreed to Shell’s demands prior to its application for Compulsory Acquisition Orders, whereas 28 (80%) did so after the CAO;

  • the seven who did not agree accounted for 50% of the land required, while the 28 who consented accounted for the other 50%;

  • it is reasonable to conclude that those with a smaller interest or who were less well-informed signed, while those with a greater interest or were better informed did not;

  • and at that early stage (2001) very little information had filtered down regarding the potential dangers involved, especially in regard to the shore-to-terminal section of the pipeline;

The urgency re access created by Shell is dubious and misrepresents the facts as all necessary licences have not yet been obtained:

  • notices granting Compulsory Acquisition Orders were signed by the Minister under questionable circumstances in May/June 2002 amidst election commotion and while the Dail was dissolved;

  • Oral Hearings were refused by the Minister in respect to both the pipeline Consent and in respect to the Compulsory Acquisition Order contrary to statutory obligation and normal practice;

  • Notices of Entry issued at that time were not acted upon then nor in the course of the following two and a half years despite due process;

  • Shell has recently sought to explain away this exceptional delay claiming that it could not do so earlier while awaiting the necessary Planning Permission for the terminal;

  • however, an equally essential permission (IPPC licence) from the Environmental Protection Agency is still outstanding and there is no certainty that it will be granted;

  • the Rossport section of pipeline is not an essential prerequisite to laying the remaining 90% of the gasfield pipeline which is off-shore but no urgency seems to relate to this;

  • it would be at least a further two and a half years before commissioning of the gasfield-to-terminal pipeline in late 2007 during which time the terminal would also have to be built;

  • for these reasons the urgency created recently by Shell about the Rossport section of pipeline is artificial and contrived and suggests purposes other than those stated;

  • this is typical of Shell’s on-going pattern of alternate intimidation and cajolment experienced from the outset - with intimidation clearly to the fore at present;

Shell attempts to make money and costs the central issue rather than local residents health and safety issues :

  • Shell recklessly entered into those contracts and commenced this work knowingly without any certainty that they would obtain the outstanding essential IPPC licence from the EPA;

  • such high-risk, self-inflicted jeopardy should not give them a right to trample over the rights of local people concerned for their families’ safety, welfare and property;

  • the Constitution is very specific regarding the rights of individuals while corporations have no standing: at best they piggy-backs on people rights through the legal fiction of being recognised as a person;

  • it is ironic in this light that one of the world’s largest corporations should use its immense financial power to bulldoze over the rights of ordinary people ;

  • Shell’s parent company recently announced annual profits equivalent to Euro18 billion, which represents Euro50 million per day or Euro2 million per hour!;

  • to date Shell has only ever revealed costs of this project, never the value of the gas reserves which at current prices would be in excess of $5 billion*;

  • this potential revenue would be free of royalties or shared state ownership, and all of its total projected investment of E800 million would be off-set against its tax liability;

  • clearly this asset, which was owned by the Irish people until recently, affords Shell ample scope for safe development in respect to both people and environment – that is, off-shore.

* Gas has an equivalency of 150 million barrels of oil to one trillion standard cu. ft. of gas. So, at a conservative $40 per barrel for oil, 0.9 trillion standard cu.ft. of gas is valued in excess of $5 billion.

Posted Date: 
9 June 2005 - 2:44am