County Limerick jobs could be lost over delays

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

SHANNON LNG, which hopes to create up to 500 jobs locally, has slammed the energy regulator over delays to its planned gas line project.

SHANNON LNG, which hopes to create up to 500 jobs locally, has slammed the energy regulator over delays to its planned gas line project.

The gas company, which plans to open a liquefied terminal on the Ballylongford landbank, has accused the commission of acting in an “anti-competitive”, and “perhaps unlawful manner”, and setting out on a “deeply flawed” and “perhaps fatal” consultation, which could pave the way for Shannon LNG to pay €10m a year to subsidise a gas interconnector which it wont even use.

And the firm dropped a strong hint that it could quit West Limerick if the regulator rules in September that they have to pay the subsidy, saying the consultation “threatens” the project’s future.

This would see more than 500 potential jobs lost to the region. The company had planned to employ 450 construction workers over an 18 month period, and then 100 permanent staff at its state-of-the-art terminal.

If the project goes ahead, it is expected to service Ireland’s energy needs for the next 45 years, because it would connect to the national grid.

But at the moment, the company remains in limbo as it awaits a decision by the independent commissioner on charges for the use of interconnectors between Ireland and the UK.

Shannon LNG - a division of New York based energy giant Hess - wants to import frozen natural gas, mainly from the middle East, and then process it in Ballylongford.

The documents released by the regulator “in the interests of transparency” have confirmed Shannon LNG’s opposition to changes in the tariffs the energy regulator is proposing - which could see the charging of more than €10m annually towards the operation and maintenance of an interconnector - which the energy firm would not even use.

But Bord Gais, the ESB and Endesa have all backed proposals to split the cost.

Shannon LNG argues the commission’s consultation - which could pave the way for a payment from the energy firm of €10m annually - is “deeply flawed, perhaps even fatally.”

In a hard hitting letter from Martin Ryan, Shannon LNG’s commercial manager, he states his company “does not support the changes being proposed because they create an overlay of ongoing regulatory uncertainty, they appear to be arbitrary, they are fundamentally anti-competitive, unjustified and possibly unlawful.”