Corrib tunnel works still suspended
OVER five weeks after the tragic death of a Corrib gas tunnel worker, operations still have not restarted on the sub-sea tunnel. The work entails digging 1.8km under Sruwaddacon Bay in order to complete the last section of the controversial pipeline and connect it with the refinery at Bellanaboy.
Twenty-six-year-old German national Lars Wagner sustained fatal injuries early on the morning of Sunday, September 8, when a compressed air-pipe attached to the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) exploded. Mr Wagner was a mechanical fitter attached to the maintenance support crew for Herrnknecht, the German sub-contractor that built the TBM, christened ‘Fionnuala’ by Shell E&P.
Shell confirmed in a statement last week for The Mayo News that the works were still suspended. “Construction work at the Aughoose tunnelling site is currently suspended as repairs to the Tunnel Boring Machine are still in progress. Tunnelling will resume when these repairs are completed and following consultation with the Health & Safety Authority. It is hoped that tunnelling will recommence in a number of weeks,” the statement said.
Government seeks advice
IN another development, Shell to Sea yesterday submitted a tender application to the Department of Energy in response to Minister Pat Rabbitte’s call for expert advice to review the generous terms that are currently on offer to oil and gas companies.
Following a Joint Oireachtas Committee report on Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, Rabbitte announced last month that he was putting out a tender for the expert review. A key recommendation of the report was to review offshore fiscal and licensing terms before each licensing round.
In its tender, Shell to Sea aims to ‘initiate the most thorough, far-reaching inquiry yet into the fiscal regime governing resource extraction in Ireland, taking all voices into consideration and evaluating all available data’.
“Corporations like Shell focus on what they call stakeholder buy-in. In layman’s terms, this means cultivating relationships with key civil servants, political hacks and PR teams, persuading them to keep government policy tilted in favour of the industry – and not the citizen. As a result, when it comes to fiscal policy the thinking at the Department of Energy has remained largely unchanged since the days of Ray Burke,” said spokeswoman Maura Harrington.
As part of Shell’s investment in the local community affected by the Corrib project, it is contributing €8.5 million, over five years, to a Community Investment Fund, which is being administered by Mayo County Council.