UK-listed Predator Oil & Gas on May 25 urged the Irish government to support its planned Mag Mell LNG import project and called for the planned decommissioning of an unused gas pipeline to be halted.
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Predator is looking to develop an LNG import project in southern Ireland that would link into the Kinsale Head gas pipeline that previously brought gas from the depleted field to the Inch terminal.
However, the pipeline is currently scheduled for decommissioning, meaning that "very shortly" Ireland could lose this access, Predator said.
Ireland, which currently has no LNG import infrastructure, is reliant on its only major producing field, Corrib, and UK gas imports to meet its demand requirements of around 5 Bcm/year.
However, the Irish coalition government formed in June 2020 has voiced its opposition to gas, making it a policy pledge not to allow the import of LNG produced from shale gas and legislating to ban new exploration activity.
In May last year, the government also approved a policy statement that includes a moratorium on the development of all LNG import terminals pending the completion of a review of the country's supply security.
Predator CEO Paul Griffiths said that being on the geographic "periphery" of Europe meant any looming gas shortage would hit Ireland harder than most.
"Ireland has a ready-made LNG solution," Griffiths said. "Ireland currently possesses a suite of infrastructure assets that can be rapidly redeployed to support offshore imports of LNG."
The Mag Mell project proposes the procurement of two floating storage and regasification units, or FSRUs, and the establishment of a mooring point 50 km off the Cork coast, linking directly to the Kinsale Head pipeline.
This existing infrastructure offers a "significant" advantage, Griffiths said.
If the pipeline were to be decommissioned, "we will then be on the back foot seeking solutions which ultimately will be more complex, take longer to develop and will cost considerably more than what Mag Mell is proposing," he said.
Security of supply
Countries across Europe have been scrambling to secure FSRUs and to make the necessary investment to link them to onshore gas infrastructure as they look to cut or eliminate Russian gas imports.
Concerns over Russian supply has left European gas prices at sustained highs in recent months, with the TTF month-ahead price hitting a record Eur212.15/MWh on March 8, according to Platts price assessments by S&P Global Commodity Insights.
It was last assessed at Eur84.50/MWh May 24, still some 245% higher on the year.
Germany has leased four FSRUs via energy companies RWE and Uniper, while the Netherlands has contracted to bring two FSRUs to the port of Eemshaven.
Italy also wants to deploy another two FSRUs, France's TotalEnergies is looking to install an FSRU at Le Havre in northern France, and Finland has agreed a charter for an FSRU that would serve both its market and that of Estonia.
Poland, meanwhile, has pledged to speed work to install an FSRU in Gdansk Bay to increase its LNG import capacity, while Greece hopes its Alexandroupolis FSRU will be operational by the end of 2023.
Predator's Griffiths said that security of energy supply was now "critical" with the specter of a European gas shortage, adding that the Mag Mell project was well-placed to be of benefit to Ireland.
"The ask is that policymakers reflect on these advantages and support the necessary steps to make it a reality. Time is of the essence," he said.