The Corrib Gas partners are now counting the cost of a contentious An Bord Pleanála ruling as the bill for the project is set to hit almost €3.4bn before the end of next year.
The company driving the project, Shell E&P Ireland Ltd (SEPIL), confirmed yesterday that the Corrib Gas Partners last year spent a further €250m on the project.
The 2012 outlay brought the total spend to €2.68bn at the end of Dec 2012.
Work continues on the subterranean 5km tunnel to bring the gas ashore and a Shell spokesman confirmed that a further €380m will be spent on the project this year, with a projected €300m to be spent in 2014.
The firm expects the tunnel to be completed by the middle of next year with gas to flow by 2015.
The spiralling costs make the project the largest commercial investment by private investors in one single scheme in the history of the State.
Gas was originally expected to flow from the field in 2003 resulting in the project likely to now be 12 years behind the schedule, and the outlay more than four times the initial estimate of €800m.
The Corrib gas partners had hoped that gas would be brought ashore in 2011 — but this was before An Bord Pleanála ruled that half of a proposed overground pipeline would be unsafe, necessitating the construction of the tunnel.
The project is now counting the cost of that decision with the projected spend on the entire scheme in 2013 and 2014 totalling €680m.
SEPIL are not in a position to provide the cost of the tunnel, however, a spokesman said ‘a sizeable proportion’ of the spend in 2013/14 is on the tunnel.
Accounts recently filed with the Companies Office by SEPIL show the firm recorded a pre-tax loss of €23.7m last year.
A tax credit of €6.4m helped reduce the loss to €17.2m.
Remuneration for the firm’s three directors last year topped €1.4m with staff costs dipping from €18.89m to €18.3m.
SEPIL’s shareholder funds last year topped €1.254bn after the firm received a further cash injection of €175m.
Shell has a 45% share in the field with its two partners, Statoil having a 36.5% share and Canadian-owned Vermilion owning the remaining 18.5% share.
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