A group of environmental activists have staged a protest against oil and gas giant Shell today.
The organisation Shell to Sea, which has overseen a long-running campaign against the global energy firm over its plans for a major gas project in Co Mayo, described its latest profit announcement as "obscene".
Shell revealed it made €19.6bn in profits during 2012. Campaign spokesman Terence Conway said it was clear communities were being exploited for corporate interests.
“These obscene profits announced by Shell this week come at the expense of communities and the environment where Shell operate,” Mr Conway said.
Protesters waving signs saying “Shell Destroys Communities and Environment” and “Harmful to Local Community” blocked trucks drawing material to a Shell tunnelling compound at Aughoose.
Shell in Ireland is the operator of the major Corrib gas project in north Co Mayo. The company has described it as one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken in the country.
According to the energy giant, Ireland currently exports 90% of its gas and Corrib will supply up to 60% of Ireland’s gas needs at peak production.
Shell to Sea have continually campaigned against the project, claiming it exposes the local community in nearby Erris to unnecessary health, safety and environmental risks.
They have also called on the Government to withdraw its backing of the project and protect communities.
“Corrib clearly shows how far the Government will go to serve corporate interests, they continue to put Shell interests before the interests of this community or indeed the whole country,” Mr Corrib said.
He said Garda resources were being wasted to support Shell at a time when they are already stretched enough following the recent closure of 95 Garda stations.
The Corrib gas field was discovered in 1996. Partners Shell, Statoil and Canadian-owned Vermilion are now 10 years behind the initial target to start generating revenues from the field.
Shell now expects gas to flow in late 2014 or early 2015.
Campaigner Maura Harrington added: “The Government are still willing to force suffering on the people of Ireland through severe cutbacks, yet at the same time give our oil and gas away to multinational companies such as Shell, with no benefit to country.
“It is time for people to demand that this situation is changed.”
It is understood the cost of developing the Corrib gas field could be four times the initial estimate of €800m at more than €3bn.
Around 900 people are employed on the project at present. That number is expected to rise to more than 1,000 in the coming months.