"The government has relinquished control over the offshore areas of our industry. Norway was tough regarding oil companies from the start. You now have an almost embarrassingly large pension fund. The situation for Irish communities, however, is as in Ogoniland in Nigeria - oil is a curse,”
MINISTER FOR the Environment Phil Hogan has rejected a call by Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and others for a public inquiry into a Dublin-based exploration company’s foreshore licence application to survey and drill for oil and gas in Dublin Bay.
Mr Hogan has said that as the application by Providence Resources for survey and drilling work six kilometres off Dalkey Island was the subject of public consultation, he did not consider a public inquiry “necessary”.
Tánaiste and Labour Dún Laoghaire TD Eamon Gilmore said earlier yesterday that Mr Hogan should exercise his right to hold an oral hearing under the foreshore legislation. Last month, the Green Party and a number of residents in the Dalkey area also called for an inquiry.
Speaking in Galway yesterday, Mr Gilmore acknowledged that a “couple of wells” had been drilled in Dublin Bay previously, but there were a “lot of issues” relating to the current application.
Four exploratory drilling projects have been carried out on the Kish Basin over the past 35 years, as listed on the Department of Energy’s petroleum affairs division database.
The Department of the Environment confirmed yesterday it had received a “large number” of submissions on this latest plan by last Thursday’s closing date.
The number of submissions was still being assessed, a department spokesman told The Irish Times .
Providence Resources and its partners, Star Energy Oil and Gas Ltd, hold an option over eight “blocks” in the Kish Bank Basin, and are seeking the foreshore licence to establish whether there is oil or gas present in commercial quantities.
Mr Gilmore attended a public meeting in Dalkey on January 23rd, and supported a call by a majority of some 300 people present for a public inquiry into the licence application.
Elaborating on this yesterday, Mr Gilmore said the oral hearing option could be exercised by Mr Hogan, as Minister responsible for the 1933 Foreshore Act. The only such oral hearing held to date under the legislation took place in 1991 over plans for a marina in Dingle, Co Kerry.
Providence Resources and partners have said the planned seismic survey, site survey and exploration drilling “will be at a significant distance from any designated area of environmental or ecological interest”.
In a written reply on Thursday last to Dáil questions tabled by three Independent TDs, Richard Boyd-Barrett, Joan Collins and Seamus Healy, Mr Hogan said the application had been referred to standard prescribed body consultees, including the Marine Institute, the Marine Survey Office, the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, as well as other bodies
“Given the nature of the application, the fact that it is the subject of a public consultation process, and that the decision and related documentation, including the submissions received under the public consultation process, will be published on my department’s website, I do not consider that a public inquiry is necessary,” Mr Hogan said.