Shell begins testing at Ballinaboy terminal in north Mayo

Company has informed residents that flaring from 40m flare stacks could be ‘noisy’

Shell E&P Ireland has begun two months of testing at its north Mayo onshore refinery in preparation for next year's scheduled production from the Corrib gas field.

The company has confirmed that natural gas from the Bord Gáis networks grid is being used to test "key pieces" of equipment at the Ballinaboy terminal, and this will include some "flaring" of gas to relieve pressure.

The company has informed residents that flaring from 40m-high flare stacks could be “noisy”, and could continue for 15 to 30 minutes.

Rossport resident Mary Corduff said she witnessed the first flaring last Saturday from her home, several miles from the terminal.


The company has said that when the terminal is producing gas from the Corrib field 83km offshore, its high-level flare stack will only be used in the event of an “unplanned shutdown or emergency”.


The practice of “flaring” was one of the grounds on which residents had unsuccessfully objected to the awarding of an integrated pollution prevention and control licence by the

Environmental Protection Agency

for the terminal.

In its latest newsletter, Shell says all gas terminals have flaring systems, which are the plant’s “back-up safety valve”. It says it will inform residents in advance of any flaring, unless it is an emergency.

The company also says it is welding together the final section of onshore pipeline, which is being run under Sruwaddaccon estuary, a special area of conservation.

German contractor Lars Wagner died during construction of the pipeline in September 2013.

Several months ago, the company published an action plan for conservation of habitats and species.

Nature conservation

“Much of Co Mayo is designated for nature conservation under Irish and European legislation, and rigorous environmental monitoring has been undertaken throughout the construction of the project,” it says.

“Protecting the environment is a hugely important factor for Shell,” it says, adding that environmental management would “continue into the operations phase”.

Meanwhile, concern has been expressed among residents opposed to the gas project about the welfare of Izzy Ní Ghraidm, a protester who is serving a five-month sentence in the Dóchas women’s prison at Mountjoy jail in Dublin.

She was sentenced on October 7th in Ballina District Court, Co Mayo, following her arrest on September 22nd on several charges relating to wilful obstruction. She was offered community service, but declined.

Defending solicitor Kathleen Doocey made representations on her behalf in relation to the length of the sentence.

The sentence was backdated to the date of Ní Ghraidm’s detention in Mountjoy on September 23rd.

Friends who have been in contact with her say she does not expect to be released until January 2015 at the earliest.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

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