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    First Gas Flows From Ireland's Corrib Field

Summary

Oil and gas major Shell has announced that first gas has begun to flow from the Corrib field, off the coast of County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland

by: Erica Mills

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Natural Gas News, News By Country, Ireland

First Gas Flows From Ireland's Corrib Field

Oil and gas major Shell has announced that first gas has begun to flow from the Corrib field, off the coast of County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland.

In a statement released yesterday, Shell said that the event was an important milestone for both the country and for the company's upstream operations.

"Today’s announcement is a positive step for our gas portfolio," Andy Brown, Shell’s Upstream International Director, said in the statement. "It is also good news for Ireland as the provision of Corrib gas improves security of supply for the Irish energy market. Delivering gas from Corrib will bring many long term benefits to the Irish economy and consumers."

Ireland has traditionally been reliant on imports of gas from other countries, particularly from the United Kingdom. According to Ireland's Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR), about 96% of the country's natural gas supply is bought on the international gas markets and imported to Ireland through the natural gas network, or specifically through interconnection with Britain. 

Shell estimates that, at peak production, the field has the potential to provide up to 60% of the country's gas needs. At its peak, it will produce an estimated 260 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscf/d), or about 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe). However, the DCENR estimates that the Corrib field will "meet approximately 40% of all-island gas demand over the first two years of operation before production starts to decline."

The field is estimated to have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, according to Shell's statement. 

The announcement of first gas flow came a day after Irish Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Alex White granted permission for the operation of the Corrib gas pipeline, citing the need to lower carbon emissions and improve security of supply.

"The recent Government White Paper on Energy, which I published on 16 December, has set out a trajectory to a low carbon economy by 2050," he said in a statement. "However, this transition will take time, and fossil fuels will remain part of our energy mix for some years to come, as we first eliminate the most polluting fossil fuels such as coal. In this context, the development of indigenous gas resources will deliver significant and sustained benefits, particularly in terms of enhanced security of supply, import substitution, national and local economic development, and fiscal return."

The Corrib field, which lies approximately 3,000 metres below the seabed, has six wells in place. Gas is transported to the Bellanaboy Bridge Gas Terminal in north-west Mayo through a 20-inch pipeline. 

The announcement of first gas flow comes much later than was first anticipated by Shell, about 11 years after it was first envisioned. The development of the Corrib gas field has been mired by protests, with strong local opposition to the building of the Corrib pipeline. Following one protest in 2005, five protesters were jailed for contempt of court after blockading Shell from accessing land where work was being undertaken.

Shell E&P Ireland is the majority stakeholder and the operator of the Corrib gas project with a 45% stake. Statoil Exploration Ireland has a 36.5% while Vermilion Energy Ireland holds the remaining 18.5% stake.

Erica Mills