A Blog About Human Rights
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Shell / Statoil Controversy Reaches Paper Of Record In Norway
Here Is a Translation.
(Thanks to various who helped sort this)
Several environmentalist organizations and Sinn Fein call for an Irish boycott of Statoil and Shell after controversy about a natural gas project. Statoil leads the Irish market with its 300 gas stations.
JAN GUNNAR FURULY
Thrice in the last month, Statoil stations in Ireland have been occupied by Sinn Fein activists protesting the Norwegian company's participation in developing the gas field Corrib. Now both Sinn Fein and the activist group "Shell to Sea" call for a total boycott of the Statoil's 300 gas stations in the country.
In the coming days we will have several actions where we ask people not to buy at Statoil. We have full respect for what the Norwegian oil company has accomplished at home, with solid technology and high ethical standards, but here in Ireland Statoil has wound up in the bad company of Shell, says the director of the actions, Maura Harrington, to Aftenposten.
Sinn Fein activists occupy a Statoil station in Dublin. Photo: INDYMEDIA
The environmental objection to the gas project was long a local affair in the Mayo district of northwestern Ireland.
But a collective Irish environmentalist movement was infuriated when the Supreme Court in Dublin on June 29, based on a lawsuit from Shell, jailed the five land owners Micheál Ó Seighin, Vincent McGrath, Philip McGrath, Willie Corduff and Brendan Philbin. The five, known in the Irish media as "The Rossport 5," were jailed on an indefinite basis for being in contempt of the court after resisting construction work on their properties.
The activists claim that Shell, Statoil, and the third owner, Marathon, use an experimental technology which carries great risks for the environment and for the life and health of inhabitants in the Mayo district. The five prisoners have among other things protested the landing of gas through an 8 kilometer long gas pipe to a refinery and power plant. The pipe will run as close as 70 meters from people's homes.
A few days ago, "Shell to Sea" sent a protest letter to Norway's ambassador in Dublin, Truls Hanevold, asking the Norwegian government to intervene in order to let the gas be refined offshore. Sinn Fein's president Gerry Adams has also involved himself strongly in the case, and recently visited the five environmentalist martyrs in Cloverhill Prison.
Statoil leads the market in Ireland with its 300 gas stations, but according to its informations director Kai Nielsen, the company has so far not registered any decline in sales.
- We find the protests completely unreasonable. The Irish government has approved every aspect of the plans and the project has also passed every possible appeal authority. The technology we use is safe and modern, says Nielsen.
He makes clear that there is no question of Statoil inducing Shell to change elements of the project.
- Here all the rules of democracy have been observed. What more can one ask for? asks Nielsen.
Leader Lars Haltbrekken in the Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature thinks it is obvious that the gas project will involve considerable interference with a vulnerable area. He refers to extensive warnings in reports by the international network Friends of the Earth, of which the Society is part.
- We call on Statoil to wield its influence so that the project conforms to the demands of the local population, Haltbrekken says.