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Pobal Chill Chomain Community et al. vs. Marathon Oil

Case overview

Date filed 22 August 2008
Current status Concluded
Issue Shell-led consortium's gas pipeline project in Ireland
Summary of the case Pobal Chill Chomáin (People of Kilcommon) and two supporting NGOs filed a complaint concerning the Corrib gas project in North West County Mayo, Ireland run by a consortium of Shell E&P Ireland, Statoil Exploration Ireland, and Vermilion (which bought out Marathon Oils share in 2009). The project includes a gas processing plant and a pipeline to transport untreated gas from the sea to the processing plant.

The complaint alleges the pipeline would pass too close to populated areas and go through an area prone to landslides, raising health and safety concerns. According the complainants, given the instability of peat in some areas, there is an increased likelihood of pipeline failure.

The groups also point to environmental concerns. The location of the refinery poses a risk to the only source of potable water for 10,000 people in the region. Furthermore, the pipeline would pass through three ecologically sensitive areas and represents a threat to wildlife.

In addition, the groups allege the Corrib Gas project would violate many human rights espoused by the European Convention for the protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
Developments/Outcome The Irish NCP, in cooperation with the Dutch NCP, conducted an initial assessment, and both NCPs declared the case admissible. The Norwegian, US and later Canadian NCPs were informed about the process.

However, the process was put on hold while direct discussions between Shell and the complainants were being facilitated by the Irish government. When these talks collapsed in early April 2009, the Irish NCP held separate discussions with the parties.

In September 2009, the NCPs summarised their findings in writing and asked the parties to react by the end of November. The NCPs surmised that mediation would be extremely difficult given the irreconcilable positions on the main issue: relocation of the planned processing plant. Shell has refused to discuss relocation, claiming it received all necessary government permits for the plant. There was also significant disagreement as to whether the consortium engaged in sufficient consultations with the community.

In January 2010, the complainants agreed with the NCPs assessment that mediation appeared impossible and requested that the NCPs close the procedure with a final statement.

The NCPs joint final statement focused on the issue of due diligence by the consortium, stating it was beyond its competence and mandate to draw conclusions on the validity of location of the processing facility.

The statement concluded that in the early stages of the project, dialogue with stakeholders had not been in accordance with the spirit of the Guidelines. However, since 2005, the consortium had improved its practices and shown willingness to address health and safety concerns. In response, the complainants expressed disappointment the NCPs had failed to consult with residents before coming to its conclusion.

The NCPs statement also advised that in general, enterprises have a responsibility to respect the rights of people impacted by their activities. Companies are expected to exercise due diligence in the broad sense of the concept, and they have a responsibility to consider going beyond what is legally required when it comes to consulting local communities.

The case is a positive example of collaboration among NCPs.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Health and safety, Human rights, Environment, Parallel (legal) proceedings, Multiple NCPs

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Ireland
NCP address 23 Kildare Street Dublin 02, Ireland
NCP website www.entemp.ie
Other NCPs involved

Complainants

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible Marathon Oil Corporation
Company address San Felipe Road 5555
TX 77056-2723 Houston
United States
Company website http://www.marathon.com/
Company in violation Marathon Oil Corporation
Country of operations Ireland
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Some developments are only visible to logged in users.
Date Actor Action Description Document
30 July 2010 National Contact Point Ireland statement Dutch and Irish NCP issue Final Statement download pdf (122Kb)  
9 January 2010 Pobal Chill Chomain, Rossport, Ballina, Co Mayo letter As mediation attempts have not been successful, complainants request NCP to issue a Final Statement  
21 April 2009 National Contact Point Ireland meeting Separate meetings between the Dutch and Irish NCP and the Corrib gas developers, led by Shell EP Ireland, and the Mayo community group Pobal Chill Chomáin were held  
8 April 2009 meeting A mediation process between Shell and Mayo community representatives led by two Irish ministers outside of the NCP process broke down. This breakdown of discussions was immediately followed by Irish Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan's approval of SHELL Ireland’s environmental management plan.  
22 August 2008 Pobal Chill Chomain, Rossport, Ballina, Co Mayo file A complaint was filed simultaneously at the Irish and Dutch NCPs for environmental and human rights violations by Shell, Statoil and Marathon Oil during the development of a gas pipeline in Ireland. The Norwegian and United States NCPs were also notified. The complaint is submitted on behalf of Pobal Chill Chomain, Kilcommon Community, Ballina, Co Mayo. Action from Ireland (Afri), an Irish NGO and Sherpa, a French NGO, are supporting the community’s efforts. download pdf (281Kb)  

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