The Corrib Gas Field is a reserve of natural gas situated 80 km off the west coast of County Mayo containing at least 1 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of natural gas. The Corrib Gas Project, directed by a consortium of companies led by Royal Dutch Shell, seeks to bring the gas ashore at Glengad in the Barrony of Erris in North West Mayo and to pump the unrefined gas 9km inland through an inhabited area to a refinery located on a boggy hill where it would be cleaned and depressurized for sale and export.
The Enterprise Consortium sought a site to build a gas terminal and in 2003 they purchased 400km2 of state forestry land from Coillte the state forestry agency. The development concept which the Enterprise Oil Consortium had selected for the Corrib Gas was that of a land based refinery. Instead of processing the gas at sea, the consortium intends to pump high pressure raw gas to an unprecedented inland refinery where it would be processed for sale and consumption.
The main work on the ground began at the refinery site in spring 2005.
Opposition to the gas consortium and governments plans among local residents grew from 2000. Many reason for the opposition: Local residents felt they were not adequately consulted.
The location of the pipeline and its proximity caused concern Local residents opposed planning permission and appealed it to The Planning Board twice.
It was felt that government pressure was used to force the planning permission through.
They also felt misled about the safety of the gas pipeline which did not require planning permission under the 1976 Gas Act.
The location of the onshore processing facility on former forestry land caused concern adjacent to water supply.
Jailing of protesters at the request of Shell Concerns about the marine ecology.
Five men, known as the Rossport Five, were jailed on 29 June 2005 for civil contempt of court after refusing to obey a temporary court injunction forbidding them to interfere with work being undertaken by Shell on their land. There were protests all over Ireland during the period of the mens imprisonment, with filling stations of Shell, and its junior partner Statoil, being picketed and blockaded. Most of the problems regarding environmental and community concerns result from the refinery location, with the Shell to Sea campaign proposing that the refinery be located offshore, as is done with Irelands only other producing gas field off County Cork. A recent petition of the 1200 Kilcommon residents clearly showed that the majority do not support the project in its current form.