Corrib Gas bill set to top €3bn

The rising bill on the Corrib Gas project is to top almost €3bn before the end of next year, new figures show.

The company driving the initiative, Shell E&P Ireland Ltd (SEPIL), yesterday confirmed that the Corrib Gas Partners last year spent a further €270m on the project.

A spokeswoman for SEPIL said a further €250m will be spent on the project this year, with the same sum due to be spent by the partners in 2013.

At the end of Dec 2011, the total amount spent on the project amounted to €2.43bn and by the end of Dec 2013, the outlay on the project will be €2.93bn.

The final bill will top €3bn, as work to be funded on the completion of the 5km tunnel to bring the gas ashore will continue for 2014, with Shell stating yesterday that “the window for first gas is late 2014/early 2015”.

Gas was originally expected to flow from the field in 2003, resulting in the project likely to be 12 years behind the original schedule and the outlay on developing the field could be four times the initial estimate of €800m.

Shell has a 45% share in the field. Statoil has 36.5% and Canadian- owned Vermillion owns 18.5%.

New accounts lodged with the Companies Office show that last year, SEPIL recorded a pre-tax loss of €32m on developing the project. This followed pre-tax losses of €50.9m in 2010.A tax credit of €8m reduced the loss in 2011 and the firm’s accumulated losses at the end of December last amounted to €214m.

The tax credit received last year brings to €108m SEPIL has received in tax credits since the project’s inception.

The Shell spokeswoman said: “2012 has been a very positive year for the Corrib gas project with the final phase of construction getting under way in earnest. A huge amount of work has gone into the preparation of the tunnelling site at Aughoose and the tunnel boring machine is now on site and will soon commence tunnelling.

“The Corrib Gas Partners are strongly committed to completing this strategically important project and delivering gas from the Corrib field to Ireland.

On when the tunnelling would commence, she said: “The tunnel boring machine, ‘Fionnuala’, is at the Aughoose site and tunnelling work is expected to commence before the end of the year.

“At present, there are approximately 900 people employed across the whole project. These numbers will fluctuate over the next two years, but a report by Goodbody Economic Consultants in Feb 2012 indicated that an average of 700 direct full-time equivalent jobs will be sustained on the final construction phase of the project, up to the end of 2014.”


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