“Less controversial now”

Statoil is aware that the Corrib project has been controversial, but point out that Shell is operator for the development.

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Aftenbladethas requested aninterview with Statoil CEO HelgeLund about the company's experiences regardingIreland, but information manager Bård Glad Pedersenpoints out that they are not operator ofthe Corrib field. Mr Lundwill not be making a statement, as a result.

Mr Pedersenfinds it important to underline that Shell is operator, and is thus ultimatelyresponsible for the development.

“Of coursewe’ve been following the demonstrations and past actions, and are familiar with that the project has been controversial locally.But it’s grounded in licences issued by the Irish authorities,” says Mr Pedersen.

He points out that the final solution for the Corrib projectmeans that a different route for the gas pipeline on land was chosento the one originally approved, and this answers local concerns.

Undesired gulf

Was the solution chosen to appease the locals, not becauseStatoil believes it is safer?

“Irish authorities did not turn down theoriginal solution, but we have been committed to finding solutions that better answer localconcerns. This is what the new onedoes.”

But you do not wish to saywhether itis safer?

“There’s no basis for saying thatthe original solution wasn’t. However, we have focused on finding solutions in dialogue with the local population.”

Mr Pedersen believes that a project being more expensive anddelayed is “not desirable”.

“Butwe’ve put new fields corresponding to400,000 barrels per day into production since 2011. Overall,delivery is ahead of time and underbudget.

Is it a problem forStatoil that the local population in Rossport hasreacted so strongly?

“The project is based in the Irish government'sdesire to develop the field. But it isnot desirable thata project is as controversialas this has been.It’s positive the new route for the pipeline isless controversial than the previoussolution.

“Completely sure”

Shell E & P Irelandcommunications director Denise Horan stressed thatthe state has regrettedthe role the company had in the imprisonmentof ‘The Rossport Five’ in 2005, butthe relationship with the locals is much better now.

Shell believes thatthe Corrib project has already contributed a lot to the community. Ms Horan notes that itnow has 1,100 employees,of which almost 600 are from the region, andthat the field will provide fulltime employment for 174 people when in production. Moreover,she points out that the Corrib project has created a lot ofbusiness for local subcontractors and accommodation places.

Paid a lot tothe community

"We have contributed over EUR 6 million (NOK 45 million) to the local community, voluntary organisationsand sports clubs through our investment programme.We also supported 61 local students via ascholarship," she wrote in an email.

The Corrib project underwent an independent review after the imprisonmentof ‘The Rossport Five’ in 2005. Shell notesthat the review concluded thatthe gas pipeline met, and in many casesexceeded all international safety standards. The oil company pointsout that they still agreed to lower the pressure in the pipeline and find a new route despite this.

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