Corrib gas timeline: 20 years of protests and controversy

Shell sells stake marking milestone in project beset by problems and court cases

Energy company Shell has sold its 45 per cent stake in the Corrib gas field to a unit of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) in a deal worth $947 million (€830 million).

Below is a timeline of the controversial gas field’s past.

1996 – Corrib gas field discovery declared by Enterprise Energy Ireland Ltd, which submitted plans to pump it ashore and build an onshore refinery in north Mayo.

2001 – Government petroleum lease granted for Corrib field


April 2002 – Corrib acquired by Shell, which became lead developer with Norwegian company Statoil and Marathon.

May 2002 – Minister for the marine Frank Fahey signs compulsory acquisition orders for access to private lands in and around Rossport for onshore pipeline route

April 2003 – An Bord Pleanála refuses planning permission for Ballinaboy onshore terminal.

Inspector Kevin Moore describes it as the "wrong site" from a strategic planning, balanced regional development, environment and sustainable impact perspective.

September 2003 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and two ministers meet the Shell president and senior management in Dublin. Revised application for gas terminal subsequently submitted by Shell.

October 2004 – new planning application for onshore terminal approved by An Bord Pleanála with 42 conditions.

June 2005 – High Court jails five men who became known as the "Rossport Five" for contempt of court over their continued protests over the pipeline route.

September 2005 – The "Rossport five" released after Shell drops injunction.

May 2006 – Government safety review by consultants recommends limiting pressure in pipeline to 144 bar

July 2006 – Government mediator Peter Cassells recommends modification of onshore pipeline route

November 2007 – Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants emissions licence for Ballinaboy terminal.

April 2008 – Labour Party president Michael D Higgins accompanies a delegation of concerned Mayo residents to Norway to highlight the role of Corrib gas partner Statoil.

April 2009 – Rossport farmer Willie Corduff hospitalised after assault

June 2009 – Shell to Sea supporter Pat O'Donnell and crewman rescued after his boat sinks off Erris Head in unexplained circumstances

August 2009 – Canadian company Vermilion confirms purchase of Marathon stake in Corrib gas project

November 2009 – An Bord Pleanála finds up to half of modified pipeline route is "unacceptable" on safety grounds

January 2010 – Former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday launches Afri petition supported by Archbishop Desmond Tutu calling for suspension of work on Corrib, pending an independent investigation.

January 2011 – Third pipeline route up Sruwaddacon estuary approved by Bord Pleanála.

April 2011 – Garda Ombudsman investigation initiated after gardaí are recorded laughing and joking about raping women they had arrested at Corrib gas protest.

September 2013 – German contractor Lars Wagner killed during work on the Corrib gas underground tunnel.

May 2014 – Work is completed on the Corrib gas tunnel, the longest of its type in Europe.

December 29th, 2015 – Final consent for project granted by minister for energy Alex White, and first gas pumped ashore.

September 2016 – Shell Ireland fined €1,000 and ordered to pay €15,000 in legal costs for causing light and noise pollution from a gas flare in a case taken by the EPA.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times