Shell planning 5km tunnel under Erris for experimental pipeline


Shell's latest plan to impose its experimental gas pipeline in Kilcommon, Erris is to tunnel a 5km tunnel five metros under the seabed of Scruwaddacon Bay. This would however still leave many houses inside the blast radius in the event of a pipeline explosion that either ruptured this tunnel or along the 4km that would still be near the surface at landfall or between the bay and the refinery at Bellanaboy.

Nevertheless this is another minor victory won by the decade long campaign local residents have fought against Shell's experimental pipeline, a campaign that in recent times has seen over a dozen people jailed for continuing to resist Shell's project. Recently 409 residents signed a letter to Shell saying they would not meet with the company as long as Pat O'Donnell, a local fisherman was in jail. He has since been joined by Niall Harnett.

The Sunday Business post article that revealed Shell's new plan's also said that 'informed sources' were presenting it as "Shell’s 'last throw of the dice’" and that it would further delay the project for a year and cost 100 million. This means the cost for Shell of crushing local resistance is approaching the estimated extra cost of building the refinery at sea, one of the core original demands of the Shell to Sea campaign. Shell's greed has cost the company a decade (the gas was to come ashore in 2003) and it now appears that putting profit before the safety of the people of Kilcommon will cost them as much as constructing the refinery at sea anyway. It is not surprising that reports are emerging of firings in Shell's gas exploration division.  The Sunday Business Post did not reveal whether its informed sources were within Shell or the Irish government but whoever is talking it clearly indicates the unhappiness with the results to date.

Shell's attempt to crush local resistance has not only generated a huge amount of negative publicity for the company but also has highlighted the Great Oil & Gas Giveaway. Under this corrupt government ministers changed Ireland's tax and royalty regime to ensure that almost none of the wealth from Corrib and future projects would result in revenue that could fund healthcare or education. With the Irish economy in a deep recession and workers seeing their wages cut and services slashed increasing numbers are demanding that the giveaway deal be torn up.