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Sean Kelly MEP. Photograph by John Kelly

EU boost for natural gas plant

THE proposed Shannon liquefied natural gas plant, between Tarbert and Ballylongford, County Kerry, across the estuary from Killimer, received much-needed EU support this week.

MEP Seán Kelly secured the backing of his EU counterparts to prioritise the development of such energy supplies in Europe’s future gas strategy.

As co-author of the European Parliament’s report EU Strategy for Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas Storage, Mr Kelly secured the backing of MEPs belonging to the parliament’s International Trade Committee, who voted in favour of supporting the development of LNG supplies, such as that which could be supplied from Kerry.

“In 2015, 41% of gas imports from outside the EU came from Russia. Reducing dependence on Russian gas is vital for the EU and therefore, increasing our home-grown LNG supplies is essential,” said Kelly, EPP group spokesman for energy and specifically for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

In the report, Mr Kelly points to a Polish example whereby a new LNG terminal there will diversify supply options by delivering the equivalent of one-third of Poland’s annual consumption, cutting the country’s dependence on imports from Russia by half. Ireland could benefit in the same way by capitalising on the global LNG market and reducing dependence on the UK, according to the Ireland South MEP.

“The security of gas supply across Europe will be enhanced through increased diversification of supplies, which can be achieved through international LNG trade and improving cross-border flows. That is why I have ensured the EU strategy will prioritise the completion of the 77 outstanding gas projects as soon as possible, including that of Shannon LNG,” he said, speaking after the vote.

“In Ireland, until December 2015, we were dependent on a single UK pipeline for 95% of gas supply on the island of Ireland. While the now online Corrib gas field will provide some respite up to 2022 or so, LNG needs to be seriously considered to ensure we don’t become fully energy dependent on a non-EU country in the aftermath of a Brexit.”

Mr Kelly is an advocate for the increased use of renewable energy but warned that renewables will not be sufficient in the short term.

“Gas will continue to play an important role in the medium term and for that reason, the EU LNG strategy is timely.”

The report will come before the entire European Parliament for approval in the coming months before being agreed by member states for action.

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