This morning Sheel E&P Ireland issued an update on the removal of unodourised gas which entered the Gas Networks Ireland Network from the Bellanaboy Bridge Gas Terminal
A spokesperson for Shell E&P Ireland said, “Work is ongoing to remove a quantity of un-odourised gas, which entered the Gas Networks Ireland (GNI ) network. Flaring is expected to continue today at the Bellanaboy Bridge Gas Terminal to remove the gas in a safe and controlled manner.
“Shell E&P Ireland Limited (SEPIL ) will continue to update local residents. SEPIL regrets any inconvenience caused by this operational incident. All operations at the Bellanaboy Bridge Gas Terminal continue to operate safely. An internal investigation has commenced and SEPIL is working with the necessary authorities and GNI to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
Ring calls for investigation
Fine Gael TD for Mayo and Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, has called for an investigation into how odourless gas from the Corrib field was allowed to enter the network which delivers gas to homes in Mayo and Galway.
“I am extremely concerned that odourless gas was allowed to enter into the network which provides gas to almost 10,000 homes in Mayo and Galway. There has clearly been a serious failure in the system.
“I am aware that the EPA is engaged with Gas Networks Ireland and the priority is that this situation is resolved safely and with minimal inconvenience to customers. However, we also need answers on how this was allowed to happen and we need them without delay.
“We were given guarantees that this type of thing couldn’t happen. Companies that sell potentially dangerous energy products to our consumers have an obligation to ensure that there is no risk to the customer. The fact that this has not happened is of the utmost concern.”
Conway-Walsh says it unacceptable
Responding to yesterday's safety incident at the Ballinaboy gas terminal Sinn Féin Senator for Mayo, Rose Conway-Walsh has said it is completely unacceptable that at the very least, residents in the Kilcolman Parish area were not notified of what was happening at the terminal yesterday.
"Some people in the community received a text late yesterday evening with scant information. I am furious that people were left in a situation overnight where they did not know whether they should leave their homes or not. People were already aware that Shell had evacuated their own staff earlier in the day, which added to the confusion. There must be an immediate investigation into these occurrences. Firstly into what caused the incident to happen and secondly as to why local residents were not communicated within a full and timely manner.
"Customers of Gas Networks Ireland were also left in a vulnerable situation. The supply of unscented gas is dangerous by the mere fact that people cannot smell a leak or if an appliance has been left on. This is apart from the inconvenience and disturbance caused to households, businesses and crucial facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes where services are dependent on a reliable source of energy.
"The question remains - who exactly is responsible. Several statutory authorities and agencies were involved in granting permissions and licences to this project. Now when this happens nobody seems to know where the buck stops.
"I have requested that Minister Naughten come before the Seanad on Tuesday afternoon to account for the Government's role in this debacle."
Gas Networks Ireland issue update
Gas Networks Ireland also issued an update this morning saying that, "Gas Networks Ireland crews have been working throughout the night to remove the odourless gas from the network. Testing is continuing at installations throughout the region to monitor odour levels as they return to normal. Our primary objective is to restore gas to all affected customers in the region as quickly as possible, while ensuring at all times that safety is our first priority. The process of restoring all customers is likely to take most of the weekend, however supply will be restored on a phased basis, as odour levels return along the network.
"We are asking customers not to turn back on their gas supply until they are advised that it is safe to do so. Customers can visit our website, www.gasnetworks.ie for the necessary steps to take to turn off and on their gas supply or call 1850 200694.
"Gas Networks Ireland is keeping natural gas customers informed directly by text, through social media, our website and through print and broadcast media. We are directly engaging with registered vulnerable customers in the region to ensure that their specific needs are met. Additionally, we have engaged with priority customers such as hospitals, to ensure continuity of supply. We will continue to issue updates to the media and via our website.
"Gas Networks Ireland apologises to customers for any inconvenience caused by these measures. While the risk is low, safety is our first priority in operating the network."
This story was updated from a previous one at 12.55pm on Friday, September 22