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High Court reserves judgment on Shell ‘contempt’ ruling

High Court reserves judgment on Shell ‘contempt’ ruling

Áine Ryan

THE HIGH Court last week reserved judgment as to whether Judge Mary Devins was correct to find Shell in contempt of a court order, issued in November 2007, when its agents entered Rossport commonage on a number of occasions the following year (2008) to carry out investigations.
President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns reserved his decision on the legal issues put before the court by Judge Devins, after Shell counsel challenged her ‘technical contempt’ judgment, made in September last.
At last week’s hearing, Denis McDonald SC, for Shell, argued his client had not acted in contempt because when the ruling was made, the company had bought a share in the commonage lands.
However, John Rogers SC, for Ms Monica Muller, of Rossport South, said that Judge Devins had jurisdiction under the Gas Act to make the order.
Mr Rogers argued that Shell should have first applied to Judge Devins to vacate her original order.
In another development, it has emerged that Shell plans to drill a satellite well north of the Corrib gas fields. A report in yesterday’s Irish Times confirmed that the Sedco 711-submersible rig arrived off the Mayo coast last week. It reveals that industry sources say that seismic information gathered on the Corrib North block last year was‘very positive’.
The report states that Vermilion, which bought out Marathon’s share in the Corrib project, last year for a quoted price of  €330 million,  has described Corrib North as ‘a four-way dip closure that has the potential to hold about 200 billion cubic feet of gas’.
The Canadian company’s chief executive Lorenzo Donadeo told the industry journal, Upstream , that if the well was successful, ‘the discovery could be tied back to Corrib’s infrastructure via two sub-sea wells at a cost of up to $117.8 million’.
Shell EP Ireland confirmed that it ‘intended to drill an exploration well’ on the site. It had no comment to make on the High Courts reserved judgement on the contempt hearing.