Timeline: Corrib gas exploration project

Since Corrib gas was discovered in 1996, bringing it ashore has met many obstacles

Sedco 711 drilling rig at the Corrib gas field. It is a semi-submersible drilling unit capable of operating in harsh environments and water depth of up to 550m.

Sedco 711 drilling rig at the Corrib gas field. It is a semi-submersible drilling unit capable of operating in harsh environments and water depth of up to 550m.


1996: Gas discovery reported 83 km off Mayo by Enterprise Energy Ireland (EEI).

August 2001: Mayo County Council approved permission for an onshore terminal to refine gas from the Corrib field on land formerly owned by Coillte at Ballinaboy, Mayo.

November 2001: A government petroleum lease is granted for the Corrib field

April 2002: Fianna Fáil minister for the marine Frank Fahey approved a plan of development for the Corrib gas field.

May 2002: Fahey signs 34 compulsory acquisition orders for access to private lands by a private company for the pipeline route. Royal Dutch Shell buys out Enterprise Energy Ireland including the Corrib gas field.

April 2003: An Bord Pleanála turns down planning permission for a Ballinaboy terminal, with inspector Kevin Moore describing it as the “wrong site” from perspectives of strategic planning, balanced regional development, environmental impact and sustainable development.

September 2003: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and two ministers meet the Shell president and senior management in Dublin.

April 2004: Mayo County Council approves a new Ballinaboy terminal application, which is subsequently also upheld by An Bord Pleanála with 42 conditions.

April 2005: Shell secures a High Court injunction restraining six named parties from interfering with pipeline and ancillary works for Corrib gas project.

June 2005: The first formal gathering of the Shell to Sea group takes place, with members calling for the gas refinery to be at sea.

June 29th 2005: The High Court jails Willie Corduff, Brendan Philbin, Philip McGrath, Vincent McGrath and Micheál Ó Seighin - known as the “Rossport Five” - for contempt of court over breaches of an April 2005 injunction.

July 2005: Minister for energy Noel Dempsey orders Shell to dismantle almost 3km of unauthorised welded pipeline onshore, citing a “prima facie” breach of consents. He also commissions a new safety review of the onshore pipeline.

September 30th 2005: The Rossport Five are released after Shell drops injunction.

November 2005: Former trade union official Peter Cassells appointed as government mediator for Corrib gas pipeline.

May 2006: A safety review recommends the pipeline’s pressure be limited to 144 bar.

July 2006: Cassells recommends modification of the pipeline route.

October 2006: Some 170 gardaí are deployed to north Mayo as Shell resumes construction at Ballinaboy amid protests. Dempsey rejects a call from Shell to Sea for an inquiry into the optimum development concept for Corrib.

March 2007: Independent north Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley and five Shell to Sea supporters complain to the minister for justice over phone tapping.

April 2007: Rossport farmer Willie Corduff wins the Goldman environmental award in the US.

May 2007: Shell initiates third level scholarship scheme as one of several recommendations on financial input from Cassells.

June 2007: 20 people, including residents and gardaí, are injured when Shell contractors attempt to enter privately owned lands at Pollathomas. Shell issues an apology and a Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commssion inquiry subsequently recommends disciplining of a senior garda handling the protest.

November 2007: Minister for environment John Gormley orders restoration of special area of conservation at Glengad by Shell consultants after unauthorised drilling.

November 2007: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends emissions license for Ballinaboy refinery.

April 2008: Labour party president Michael D Higgins accompanies delegation of concerned Mayo residents to Norway to highlight role of Corrib gas partner Statoil. New community group Pobal Chill Chomáin, formed by former Shell to Sea supporters, backs compromise terminal site at Glinsk and drops demand for refinery at sea.

August-September 2008: Concerns about impact of refinery discharges on marine environment by Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association result in Shell proposing an alternative, and offering fishermen compensation for pipelaying at sea.

November 2008: Minister for energy Eamon Ryan and minister for the gaeltacht Éamon Ó Cuív initiate a forum for the Corrib gas project in attempt to secure community resolution.

April 2009: Willie Corduff hospitalised after an assault during an overnight protest at pipeline landfall site.

June 2009: Fisherman and Shell to Sea supporter Pat O’Donnell and a crewman are rescued and claim their fishing vessel was boarded and sunk off Erris Head.

June 2009: Two Naval Service patrol ships provide security for continued pipelaying at sea.

November 2009: Garda Ombudsman confirms 75 per cent of more than 100 complaints over handling of Garda security at Corrib gas project are deemed admissible for investigation.

November 2009: A second onshore pipeline route plan is rejected after Bord Pleanála finds up to half of it is “unacceptable” on safety grounds.

January 2010: Former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday launches petition by justice group Afri calling for suspension of all work on Corrib gas project pending independent investigation.

January 2010: Garda Corrib policing costs from autumn 2005 quoted at almost €14 million

April 2010: Frontline report by barrister Brian Barrington calls on Garda to reinvestigate assault on Willie Corduff and criticises State’s handling of project and breaches of protestors’ rights.

May 2010: A third pipeline route, through Sruwaddacon estuary between villages of Rossport and Pollathomas, is submitted by Shell to Bord Pleanála.

January 2011: The third pipeline route is approved by Bord Pleanála.

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

May 2013: United Nations special rapporteur on human rights defenders sees “pattern of intimidation and harassment” at Corrib gas site.

September 2013: German contractor Lars Wagner is 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.

July 2014: Garda Ombudsman report dismisses claims Shell supplied alcohol to gardaí policing the Corrib gas project.

March 2015: A discharge pipe from the Corrib refinery surfaces in Broadhaven Bay after storms.

October 2015: The EPA grants a revised industrial emissions license for Ballinaboy refinery, and refused oral hearing request signed by 1,160 people.

December 4th, 2015: Four Mayo residents initiate legal challenge to EPA license for refinery.

December 29th, 2015: Final consent for project granted by Minister for Energy Alex White, with approval to operate pipeline under section 40 of the Gas Acts.