UGEE JRP - Why was the UGEE Joint Research Programme Contract awarded to the consortium led by CDM Smith Ireland Ltd.?

The contract award procedure chosen for this competition was by open procedure. Six tenders were received. The contract was awarded following a robust evaluation process in full compliance with procurement guidelines. The constitution of the evaluation panel was approved by the project Steering Committee and included personnel with the capacity to make informed decisions on the tenders received. The evaluation panel consisted of 27 existing and retired personnel from the following organisations:

  • An Bord Pleanala
  • Commission for Energy Regulation (CER)
  • Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR)
  • Department of the Environment Community and Local Government (DECLG)
  • Department of the Environment – Northern Ireland (DOENI)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • ETH Zürich, Switzerland
  • Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI)
  • Health Service Executive (HSE)
  • Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA)
  • Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII)
  • University College Cork
  • University of Bergen, Norway
  • University of Ulster

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is broad in its scope, covering several environmental parameters as well as operational practice and regulatory approaches around the world. CDM Smith Ireland Ltd. is leading a consortium of organisations which, together, can deliver the detailed and objective technical aspects of this work. The consortium includes British Geological Survey, University College Dublin, University of Ulster, AMEC, and Philip Lee Solicitors. This consortium includes commercial consultancies, academics, a geological research institution and a legal firm, each offering a particular specialism required by the project scope.

One of the key requirements of the tender was evidence of expertise in field as per award criteria.  Of particular relevance, is Criterion A, which relates to the technical merit of the human resources offered in the tender (see below extract of the Invitation to Tender document) 

“Criterion (A) - Technical merit of the human resources offered [Weighting 15%]

Tenderers should clearly identify staff and resources to be allocated to the contract. Personnel responsible for the management and execution of each part of the contract shall be clearly identified for their proposed roles along with the proposed activities for and level of participation of each proposed contract team member. All contract team members shall be identified in Appendix 2A.

In addition, tenderers are invited to demonstrate their capacity to provide specialist analysis in relation to the technical specifications contained within the Terms of Reference set out in Appendix 1, through the provision of comprehensive CV’s, the extent of the expertise and fitness for purpose of all the human resources proposed in the Schedule. The proposed project team is expected to include members who have comprehensive understanding of geology and hydrology as well as an in depth knowledge of a range of legal, environmental, health, socio-economic and technical issues, as well as knowledge of mineral and fossil fuels (preferably unconventional gas) extraction practices and technologies.”

The evaluation panel found that in relation to the above-mentioned Criterion, that the tender led by CDM Smith Ireland Ltd provided an excellent response. The overall resourcing of the proposal was excellent with excellent legal expertise (esp. in the context of Project C); a strong and experienced hydrogeological team in place; an excellent peer-review group proposed with high credibility in addition to a seismology team which was considered to be outstanding. In addition, as part of the tender submission procedure, the tenderer (i.e. CDM Smith Ireland ltd.) had to return a declaration of Conflict of Interest (as per Section 7.13 of the Invitation to Tender documentation).

CDM Smith is a Boston-based, global engineering and construction firm with more than 5,000 staff serving public and private clients in water, environment, transportation, energy and facilities. CDM Smith has been providing support to the oil and gas exploration and production industry in the United States and internationally in the development and application of best practices to support sound development. CDM Smith has provided support to government agencies, municipalities, industries, institutions and research groups for the development and implementation of sound engineering and environmentally protective processes to protect water resources and the natural environment. Their staff has developed multiple best practices and technical solutions for developing natural resources in a protective manner that have been presented in technical forums, government workshops, NGO workshops and similar forums. As their website notes “Our role is to identify and apply the leading scientific and engineering methods to help our clients protect water supplies”. Here in Ireland, CDM Smith Ireland Ltd. has been the lead consultant for the implementation of the Water Framework Directive for the Eastern River Basin District – a project which ultimately is leading to enhanced water quality and ecology in all of the natural waters in eastern Ireland; this has given broad experience of ground and surface water issues in the country as well as an understanding of the importance of local issues and water quality pressures. CDM Smith Ireland Ltd.’s role in the UGEE Joint Research Programme is as programme manager and also has involvement in water impacts, air quality and international operational practices; for this CDM Smith Ireland Ltd. draws on their expert environmental technical staff in Ireland but also American based staff with knowledge of operational practices. CDM Smith Ireland Ltd. are supported by specialists from the British Geological Survey, University College Dublin, Ulster University and AMEC on topics related to their specialisms thereby allowing a detailed and comprehensive assessment of potential impacts within the island of Ireland context.

The UGEE Joint Research Programme is a Joint Research Programme aimed at understanding potential impacts of UGEE and drawing on the experiences and recommendations of other countries. As far as we are aware, this approach of a detailed prior understanding is unique to Ireland and will contribute to a solid basis for policy and community debate and informed consideration of whether or how this industry should proceed.

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