The controversial Corrib Gas pipeline has been officially launched in Co Mayo.

Minister of State at the Department of Natural Resources, Joe McHugh, unveiled a plaque to mark the formal commencement of operations by Shell and its partner oil companies. 

The first gas from the Corrib field was brought ashore at the end of December, following ministerial approval. 

Guests were invited to a lunch in Belmullet this afternoon, where there will be a number of speakers. 

There was a strong Garda presence around the gas terminal site at Bellanaboy, while security staff checked the identity of all those attending the ceremony some 15km away in Belmullet.

Managing Director of Shell E&P Ireland Ronan Deasy said it was important that the company was able to show its gratitude to local businesses and contractors who had worked on the project. 

He acknowledged that the development had not been without controversy and had caused division but he said he hoped the community could move forward now that it had been completed.