Fianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan is calling on the Energy Minister to take a more hands on approach to resolve the delay in the Shannon LNG project.
The €600 million gas terminal, due to be built near Ballylongford in north Kerry, has been on hold for almost 6 years because of a row over pipeline fees. Shannon LNG is being asked to pay a €50 million a year levy for two interconnecting pipelines between Ireland and the UK, which the company says it won’t use. The matter is before the Supreme Court.
“I’m becoming increasingly concerned about the future of this project. It secured planning permission back in 2008 but the plan has been caught up in legal issues for the past three years. So far not one brick has been laid. There seems to be no urgency to remedy the issues surrounding the pipeline levy. The Minister seems to be reluctant to intervene, despite the fact that a huge investment and hundreds of jobs are hanging in the balance.
“This project promised in the region of 500 construction jobs as well as more than 50 permanent positions. This is much needed investment and job creation in North Kerry and West Limerick. The Government needs to ensure that these are not jeopardised. However, responding to a parliamentary question on the issue, Minister Rabbitte absolved himself of all responsibility by arguing that he had no statutory function in relation the LNG project, and that responsibility lay solely with the Commission for Energy Regulation.
“Minister Rabbitte argues that the regulatory treatment of the gas interconnectors and tariffing are matters for the CER under the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002. He says he has met with senior executives from the companies proposing to develop the project, but he hasn’t taken the matter any further. There are real fears this plan could be abandoned. Is the Government prepared to stand back as a multi-million euro deal and hundreds of jobs are lost, having a devastating effect on the local economy. If the US firm decided to pull out it would also have a major impact on Ireland’s energy market. I would urge the Minister to rethink his position and consider an intervention in order to save the hundreds of jobs that come with this project, which will provide much needed investment in the local community as well as ensuring better competition in the energy market”.