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    Shell's Rolling Irish Outage (Update: Corrib Restarts Oct.11)


An outage at Ireland's Corrib offshore gas field keeps being extended, with the operator Shell declining to say why.

by: Mark Smedley

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Corporate, Exploration & Production, News By Country, Canada, Ireland, Norway

Shell's Rolling Irish Outage (Update: Corrib Restarts Oct.11)

Updates from Ireland's network operator and regulator are appended below the original article published October 3.

An outage at the Corrib offshore gas field, which produces all of the Republic of Ireland's indigenous natural gas, has been extended again. The country is able to source alternative supplies from and via Britain.

Regulatory (Remit) notices filed by Statoil, one of the partners in Corrib, show a reduced availability from the field of 9.9mn m3/d until October 5 at 6am Norwegian time. This equates to the field's entire production capacity of 3.6bn m3/yr, showing the field is shut in.

Statoil did not indicate the reason for the outage. It told NGW that all questions should be referred to "Shell who are still operator; upon completion of the transaction [Canada's] Vermillion Energy will become the new operator." 

Shell too declined to tell NGW the reason for the outage. “We are continuing to collaborate with [onshore gas grid operator] Gas Networks Ireland and the regulators and don’t comment on production timelines,” a spokesperson added.

The outage began September 21 and successive notices published on Statoil's Remit pages indicated that the field would resume output in two days' time, the most recent of which published October 3.

In July, Shell announced the planned sale of its 45% stake in the Corrib gas field for up to $1.23bn to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB). 

Ireland is able to replace missing Corrib production by increasing up imports of UK and Norwegian gas via three pipelines linking Scotland to the island of Ireland (two to the Irish Republic, one to the UK's Northern Ireland). 

Irish gas system, showing Corrib offshore northwest Ireland. Kinsale Head gasfield is a storage facility only (Map source: Gas Networks Ireland)


Update as of October 4: Ireland's Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) -- responsible for promoting the safety of gas customers and the general public with regards to natural gas supply, storage, transmission, distribution and consumption -- told NGW  October 4 that early in the morning of September 21 2017 a quantity of unodourised gas was delivered from the Corrib onshore terminal at Ballanaboy, county Mayo into the national gas network. Natural gas is odourless but has a smell added for detection purposes as a safety measure in the event of leaks. The unodourised gas was contained in the Mayo-Galway Pipeline. GNI, Ireland's national gas transmission operator, commenced reverse flow of gas back to the Bellanaboy terminal.  Flaring of the unodourised gas immediately started at the terminal. However CRU did not say what steps have been, and are being taken, to remedy any onshore problems and enable production from Corrib to be restored. It said that gas supplies to local users was restored September 23 and that it has commenced a comprehensive investigation into the incident: "The investigation of this gas quality safety issue is being undertaken under both the Petroleum Safety Framework and the Natural Gas Safety Framework. The investigation is ongoing."

Also Oct.4, Statoil's Remit page now shows Corrib will be offline until October 6 - similar to its earlier 'day after next resumption' notices, while Shell's Remit page says simply "Please be advised that the flow to the GNI pipeline from the Bellanaboy Bridge gas terminal has been reduced." 


Update as of October 25:  Gas Networks Ireland (GNI) has confirmed that Corrib gas began flowing onto the GNI network on October 11 and everything is now operating normally.


Mark Smedley