Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte has ruled out intervening in the row between the energy regulator and the company behind the €800m plan for a liquidified gas terminal on the Shannon estuary.
A question mark hangs over the project after its backers, Shannon LNG, said a new tariff structure by the Commission of Energy Regulation will cost it €75m per annum.
Last Wednesday, the Irish Examiner reported that Bord Gáis Networks said if the commission does not proceed with its new tariff structure, it will result in higher energy prices costing consumers €40m per annum.
Defending his decision in the Dáil not to intervene, Mr Rabbitte referred to the Irish Examiner article, saying it dealt “with some of the complexities and pitfalls for the consumer and the national interest”.
Mr Rabbitte said: “It is being bruited in Kerry by the promoters that I can give a policy direction on the matter to the regulator. I want to make it clear that I can give a general policy direction, but I cannot intervene on behalf of, or in opposition to, a particular project.”
Mr Rabbitte also said: “I do not envisage making a ministerial policy direction as sought by and on behalf of the company (Shannon LNG).”
The commission is due to make its final decision on the issue next month and Mr Rabbitte stressed: “The decision on the regulatory treatment of the gas interconnectors is statutorily a matter for the Commission for Energy Regulation under the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002. I have no function in the matter.”
He added: “I am as anxious as everybody else that the project be given the green light and we proceed with it as soon as possible. However, there has been misrepresentation about who performs the various functions.”
Mr Rabbitte said the Shannon LNG facility, together with the bringing onshore of Corrib gas, would provide important security of gas supply.
The construction of the facility is expected to provide 800 jobs — Shannon LNG has already spent €40m to get the project to this stage.
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