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The Issue For Statoil: Think For A Minute

Shell has been the major partner 45% ownership in the consortium attempting to develop the Corrib Gas field. Statoil has 36.5% ownership, Marathon the remainder, of some 18%.
Exploitative Deal - Robbery of Irish National resources.The terms of the agreement reached with the Dublin Government, under which the consortium is to exploit these reserves, are quite unacceptable, and no way in line with the high standards which Statoil (a Norwegian company) has worked in Norway with the Norwegian state, to exploit their Norwegian oil reserves. (Cf. Padhraigh Campbell 0872453376)The deal gives no royalties to the Irish government and an extraordinarily low rate of tax, all of which the consortium will be able to write off. The pipeline from the recovery station where Shell intends to process the gas, at Ballinaboy, to join the Irish Gas grid and the interconnector, is to be provided by Bord Gais, at no cost to the Consortium.Crooked DealThis deal, which was reached in 1992, originally with Enterprise Ireland, before the Shell consortium bought Enterprise out, was made by Ray Burke, the minister at the time, who has since been found to be corrupt. The deal is generally believed to have been a crooked deal, which has meant that the exploitation of the Irish owned oil and gas reserves will bring no benefit whatsoever to the Irish nation.Statoil would not behave in this way in their Norway operations. Why should they behave in this way in Ireland.Shell’s Notorious Operations – OgoniStatoil is associated in this Corrib operation with Shell, whose reputation in oil and gas exploration is a world wide scandal. It was shell which carried out the genocidal operation in Ogoni, Nigeria, subsequent hanging of 9 people including Ken Saro Wiwa, in 1995, for their part in the campaign to protect the Ogoni peoples’ rights to their land, their environment and their resources.A New untried unsafe, dirty dangerous TechnologyExperts inform us that Shell intends to employ a new, and previously, untried technology at Corrib. It is to cap the gas reserve at sea, and then bring in the raw, untreated gas to the Ballinaboy recovery station, 9 kms inland, via a raw gas pipeline under extraordinarily high pressures, of 400 times the pressures of gas in the national grid pipeline, which carries gas which has been treated and cleaned. This is the pipeline that Shell intends to run across the land, and beside the houses of the people who today have been jailed. Experts have said that there doesn’t exist technology to do this safely. But Shell intend to try because is will reduce their capital costs by _369 Million and their operating costs by 40% per annum. Local people consider that the Shell consortium is experimenting with the lives of the Mayo inhabitants, and is indifferent to effects upon lives and environment of local people.Experts inform us that this technology is experimental, never tried before, and contains dangers of explosion, which would incinerate those within a radius far in excess of the distance of the pipeline from these peoples’ houses.No Health and Safety report – No government consent for operation to begin.The original health and safety report was rejected because Shell was found to be involved with the company that drew up the initial report. Current Minister Dempsey has ordered a new and independent Health and safety report, and cannot legally give his consent to the pipeline until this report has been made and found satisfactory.Huge benefit to Irish People foregoneFurthermore because under this technology there will be no gas rig at sea, but only a recovery station on land, the jobs and economic benefit to the people of the immediate area will be negligible. The economic benefits of servicing a rig at sea would have been substantial. Extrapolating from the example of gas and oil exploration in the Grampian field in the North sea, it is reckoned that each trillion cubic foot of gas represents some £1 billion input into the local economy to service the off shore rig. The Corrib Gas reserves are estimated to be between 3 and 7 trillion cubic feet of gas. This would have a major impact on the local economy of North West Mayo – one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas in the periphery of the EU.Shell pursuing at all costsMeanwhile Shell, acting for the consortium, has taken on contractors to install the pipelines, which are to carry the gas to the recovery station, and a pipeline to take dangerous chemical and electrical cabling alongside back out to sea. Irreparable Damage to landsLocal people have opposed the entry of these contractors onto their lands to start this work. They say that the work of installing these underground pipelines will irreparably damage the bog land, and its drainage system, robbing their land of any further use, and likely to cause slippage of the bog itself. They claim that initial work on installation of the pipeline cannot be started before consent is given by the minister for Shell’s planned exploration. There is no such consent yet given.Shell has pursued their plan regardless: without consent of the Dublin Government, or legally required Health and Safety report. Shell resorts to court to force compliance to proceed.In April Shell sought and won an injunction to prevent local people from obstructing their progress to build the pipeline. They were granted an injunction by the High Court in April 2005. Today (June 29th) they took committal proceedings in the high court, which, legally, a judge was obliged to grant, given that the 5 named individuals refused to give an undertaking they would comply with the conditions of the injunction not to obstruct Shell’s contractors on the lands where the pipeline is to go.Shell claimed in the committal proceedings that further delay in gaining access to the pipeline site would incur costs of _25,000 per day, if they were obliged to delay their operations further, possibly into summer of 2006.Furthermore, Shell applied to the court, and was granted legal costs of the committal proceedings, which would be punitive, and undoubtedly would leave the defendants in penury – with the loss of their small properties, houses and chattels, which have been in their families over generations. Does Statoil really intend to be associated with this punitive action and intimidation to enforce, at present an illegal proceedings by Shell, against local people defending their rights and their environment.

Posted Date: 
5 July 2005 - 12:11pm