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Bringing gas to Mayo

Letter of the week: Bringing gas to Mayo
SIR - The decision of An Bord Gáis to seek a relaxation of the standards by which the Commission for Energy Regulation decides whether a proposal to extend the gas pipeline infrastructure is commercially viable will no doubt and rightfully be welcomed by potential investors. The market is no longer a monopoly of An Bord Gáis and deregulation has made the supply of gas as open to competition as the supply of electricity or any other service.
Already this deregulatory step seems destined to initiate a frenzy of expectations and creative scenario-making whipped on by the electoral needs of a declining Dáil session.
Can the politicians please hold their horses a bit and not repeat the orgies of misapprehension and vilification in which they have indulged for six years now, on the basis of the Corrib mirage or is that too much to expect?
Already Councillor McGuinness, the Fine Gael whip in Mayo County Council I believe, is reported as saying (Western People, Jan 17th ‘06 Proposed changes in gas connections to benefit Mayo’s larger towns) “unless the Rossport impasse was resolved it is unlikely any towns would get gas.”
Is he suggesting that Mayo, of all the 32 counties, must come up with its own supply and dig its own wells before it gets connected to the national grid? This principled stand must be unique among democracies. No other county in Ireland would tolerate such defeatism in its elected representatives and neither should we.
Before embarking on another hunt for the Golden Fleece will our public representatives please take on board the following realities at a minimum:
* Gas flows in both directions through a pipe - Siberian gas has no hatred of Mayo towns;
* there is no shortage of gas for the
Irish market, a tiny part of the huge Eurasian market;
* the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act
2002, Section 21.7, introduced just before the last General Election, specifies “For the avoidance of doubt, a public service obligation may not be imposed for the purpose of extending the natural gas system to new areas of supply on a non-commercial basis.” Don’t blame the EU: no Senator or TD voted against it. * The proposed re-definition of what is commercial does not give a commercial advantage to Mayo towns: all towns in the state, even the dormitory towns in the Dublin region, are given equal advantage. * expectations not based on the commercial-political reality of the state are likely to disappoint.
As I have asked in another but similar context, can misinformation, please, be left to the misinformed and no longer burden Shell and the Corrib Gas Project with expectations the fulfilling of which is not its responsibility or within its competence.
Yours patiently, Micheál ' Seighin.

Posted Date: 
27 February 2006 - 9:34am