The €500m Shannon liquefied natural gas facility planned for Ballylongford in north Kerry was shelved since planning was granted in 2006.
The project has the potential to create over 350 jobs in construction and 50 permanent jobs. Concerns are mounting about tariffs on gas coming through the interconnector pipes from the UK, which have supplied up to 96% of the nation’s gas requirements in the past.
The project did not proceed after the energy regulator introduced a new framework that would require Shannon LNG to contribute to the cost of the interconnector pipes, despite the fact that it would not be using them.
The cost to the company was expected to be up to €35m a year and its owner Hess in frustration at the refusal to make the regulatory has since pulled out of the project and sold its interests.
It is understood €67m has been invested in the project.
The Irish Examiner has, however, learnt the project has got the support of a new investor, with interest piqued by the renewed support for the project.
Shannon LNG would see cheap gas being imported in frozen form from the US and elsewhere to the Co Kerry plant where it would be liquefied and piped into the national grid. Energy Minister Denis Naughten is understood to have identified the project as one of the key opportunities for offsetting energy security risks following Brexit.
So significant is the project now viewed that funding may be made available from the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and the European Investment Bank, with the project now designated as a European Project of Common Interest following a significant lobbying campaign led by MEP Seán Kelly.
Mr Kelly said: “This project is not just an option, it is becoming an imperative We’re actually by far and away the most vulnerable of all the 28 member states in the EU now.
The countries that are vulnerable in terms of energy requirements across the EU are well advanced on plans to sort that out by building their own energy terminals but we’re not doing that.
Shannon LNG is the best solution available to us post-Brexit from a supply security perspective,” he said.
Shannon Foynes Port Company has responsibility for the overall management of the Shannon estuary and CEO Pat Keating said: “Why the Shannon LNG project has not come to fruition is baffling considering its importance in terms of energy security and the significance of the investment for north Kerry.”