Written Answers. - Corrib Gas Field.

Michael Ring

Question:

138 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the plans he has to grant a petroleum lease on the Corrib gas field regardless of the destruction of the environment and small farmers livelihoods of North Mayo. [7476/01]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 108 and 110 of 27 February 2001 in which I outlined the factors I must take into account in granting a petroleum lease. As indicated in that reply, an environmental impact statement is required to be submitted for my approval before the lessee can engage in any development work leading to or associated with the extraction of oil or gas. Among the issues that fall to be addressed under the environmental impact statement are the effects of the proposed development on human beings. In deciding whether the proposed working of petroleum would or would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment one of the criteria which I will be taking into account includes the environmental sensitivity of geographical area likely to be affected having regard in particular to existing land use.

Michael Ring

Question:

139 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources if it is his intention to grant a petroleum lease based on incomplete environmental impact statements, as issued to Mayo County Council, An Taisce, and the general public, on the Corrib gas field, in view of the fact that the licensing terms for offshore oil and gas exploration and section 27 developments stipulate that an outline statement of the likely effects of the proposed development on the environment is necessary before the granting of a petroleum lease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7477/01]

I refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 108 and 110 of 27 February 2001 in which I outlined the criteria that must be satisfied before granting a petroleum lease. The company has complied with the requirement of submitting an outline statement of the likely effects of the proposed development on the environment to my Department.

Michael Ring

Question:

140 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the reason an inland 60 acres gas processing terminal is required for the Corrib gas field located off North Mayo, which is anticipated to be two-thirds the size of the Kinsale field, the latter of which is processed at sea. [7478/01]

The Kinsale Head gas field is located in 90 metres of water 45km from shore whereas the Corrib gas field is located in about 350 metres of water 65km for the coast. The Kinsale field was developed in the 1970s at which time there was not the possibility of a subsea development. It has two platforms fixed on the sea bed. If it was to be developed today the preferred cost effective system would be a subsea development without field platforms. The cost effective and optimum development system for Corrib is a subsea development with processing at a terminal onshore. If processing were to take place in field it would require deployment of floating facilities which, as indicated in my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 73 of 15 February 2001, would mean that production would be weather sensitive, a serious drawback in the hostile environment at Corrib. Increased capital and operational expenditures would be needed which could make the development uneconomic and it would have serious safety implications.