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LNG bunkering proposal ‘nothing new’, Govt insists

The Gibraltar Government said yesterday that it has been studying the potential for LNG bunkering for some considerable time, adding it has always been open about this.

This was the latest exchange in a festering row over gas bunkering, with the Government hitting back at Opposition accusations that it had tried to silence the GSD on the issue.

In a statement the Government said it was ‘surprised’ that GSD Spokesman for the Environment “should feel so smug when he discovered that part of the recent Shell contract would, indeed, involve an LNG bunkering project.”

The Government stressed that it has continually made it clear that it has been studying this potential for some considerable time.

It pointed to a Government statement on the issue dated November 23, 2015 in which it said: “It is no secret that Shell and the other bidders have expressed an interest in developing the LNG bunkering market in the Strait of Gibraltar as part of a wider global network.”

“The potential to establish an LNG bunkering market in Gibraltar was a key reason for global players such as Shell bidding for the project to supply the power station. The Government has always been open about this.”

The Government added that the project will be subject to the Government’s policy of stringent environmental processes and studies, including Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) procedures.

Shell has also committed to carry out a Joint Development Study by 1 January 2018 which will deal with the regulatory framework, safety and technical standards without which the bunkering project cannot proceed.

Without all these environmental and safety requirements being satisfied, there will be no LNG bunkering, the Government said.

“How can Mr Hammond possibly describe all this as a ‘U Turn’?” No 6 Convent Place asked.

The Government added that it is “astonished that Mr Hammond has the audacity to suggest that the staff at the Ministry of the Environment, Gibelec and Environmental Agency professionals, and presumably the professionals at Shell and at the Health and Safety Laboratory ‘have no idea what a Risk Assessment or Hazard Analysis looks like.’”

“How dare Mr Hammond, with no professional qualifications in this field, insult them in this way?” the Government said.

It added that the various safety and environmental studies undertaken thus far have all been carried out in a highly professional manner.

Of the GSD the Government said: “They really are becoming ‘The Party of Fear’ whose first rule is to scare the living daylights out of the public.”

The Government added that it is confident that, by the date of the next general election, the various LNG facilities will have passed all necessary scrutiny: “if they have failed to do so then the facilities will not be in operation.”

The Government recommended to the GSD that it writes a joint letter with Spark to LLOYDS, telling them to release their full report of June 2015 “so the public can see just how much of it they redacted.”

“Members of the public can then judge for themselves whether to trust a party which is willing to edit a document in order to base a safety report on misleading information.”

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo said: “Mr Hammond is an experienced Air Traffic Controller. Perhaps he should stick to air traffic control and leave others to their own area of professional expertise. He is not an expert in safety, security or hydrocarbons, yet readily proceeds to criticise under the pernicious, unstated, assumption that all the professionals in government and Shell are not up to the job. How dare he insult these professionals who care about safety first and foremost?"