SIXTEEN years after the controversial Corrib gas field was discovered, the culmination of the project is now in sight as tunnelling for its final phase started at Sruwaddacon Bay, in north west Mayo, over the weekend. The 4.9km tunnel will be the longest raw gas pipeline in western Europe and longer than Dublin’s port tunnel.
A statement yesterday by lead partner, Shell E&P Ireland confirmed that after ‘17 months of preparatory works’, Fionnuala, the specially-designed tunnel boring machine (TBM) named after one of the Children of Lir, installed the first concrete ring in the segment-lined tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay on Sunday morning last’.
Construction of the tunnel, which is being built by joint venture company BAM/Wayss and Fraytag, is expected to last 15 months and will involve 24-hour a day excavations.
“It has taken an enormous effort on the part of the whole team … to get to the point where we were ready to commence. We are pleased that everything has gone safely, smoothly and according to schedule. We have an excellent team in place, made up of German tunnelling experts, a significant number of local workers and existing SEPIL staff for the long phase of work that lies ahead,” said Paul Hughes of Shell.
Shell confirmed that tunnelling would stop over the Christmas holidays and resume in early January.
There are currently 900 people working on the Corrib project, with over 56 per cent of employees from Mayo.
Responding to news of the tunnelling last night, Maura Harrington of Shell to Sea said the protest group ‘would continue to defend the integrity of ‘place’ and the right of the people of Ireland to the resources of Ireland’.
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