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Ireland to sell its gas fields off cheaply.

Antonio Toral
Koldo Bai
Just read this on a Spanish newspaper,interesting article. Here is the translation:

Ireland to sell its gas fields off cheaply.

The value of oil and gas in Ireland is 600,000 million euros, but the government sells them without benefit and EU loan is 85,000 million

The oil and gas deposits to be exploited on the west coast of Ireland are estimated at between 540,000 and 600,000 million. This is considerably more to the loan recently asked by the Irish State to "save" the country's banking system (85,000 million).

With hardly any benefits

Unlike most oil producing countries where the average of what the state is 68% admitted that Ireland is not paid hardly anything. In 1987, the then minister Ray Burke abolished the participation rate of 50% in hydrocarbon deposits found to date. Burke was later convicted and jailed for corruption. A few years later, in 1992, the Minister Bertie Ahern lowered the rate to apply to the profits of oil companies from 50% to 25%. In March 2012 a commission of inquiry concluded that Ahern lied in the '90s on revenue incurred on his account valued at 165,000 pounds (210,000 euros).

What's more, does not guarantee the security of supply, since the law allows companies to exploit these deposits export all the gas extracted. Moreover, these companies can sell in Ireland extracted gas to market price. According to a report from the U.S., Ireland is the second country in the world with the lowest taxes on oil, second only to Cameroon. The media have barely addressed the issue due to conflicts of interest. Tony O'Reilly owns most of the major newspapers of the country and owns the oil company Providence Resources. This company has obtained a concession to exploit a gas field in Dalkey (seaside town near Dublin) worth approximately 50,000 million euros. The only site in operation today (under construction), which was awarded to Shell, is in the range Corrib offshore, 80 kilometers from the western coast of County Mayo.

An experimental method

Instead of building an offshore platform to process the gas, as is standard practice in offshore fields around the world, Shell proposed an experimental method is to build a pipeline to bring raw gas ashore, and once there, process it in a refinery. The Shell advantage is clear: it is a considerably cheaper method, but involves serious risks for the communities of the area. First, the raw gas can reach a very high pressure, up to 150 bar, (the maximum is five bars in the domestic gas pipes). Moreover, the raw gas containing chemical impurities which may corrode the pipe and are explosive. In addition, it has no distinctive odor that identifies leaks, that smell is added at the refinery. At a hearing of An Bord Pleanala (the Tribunal), Shell consultants admitted that in the case of a gas leak, buildings within 230 meters of the pipe could ignite due to the effects of radiation.


The local community started a campaign against the construction of the pipeline in 2000 and adopted the name Shell to Sea (Sea Shell). The tactics employed during these eleven years of resistance have been very varied, as allegations of political lobbying, amendments to building permits, civil disobedience actions, etc. The campaign has inspired communities in other parts of Ireland. The protests succeeded in delaying the construction of the pipeline. Nevertheless, in the summer of 2009 Shell managed to bring the pipeline ashore, for it enlisted the help of 300 police, 200 private security officers, five Navy ships and even a military plane. There remains the last phase of construction, which will take the pipe from the beach to the refinery. Although Shell estimates that this phase will last for at least two years, will in the coming months when carrying out most of the work.

Shell for repression

During these years the repression of the campaign has been a constant. In 2005 several residents who were opposed to Shell agreed to their lands were tried and imprisoned. Popular pressure ensured that they were released after 94 days.


In April 2009, several masked men beat up one in a complex of Shell. In June 2009, four armed men sank the boat of a fisherman who opposed the construction of the pipeline. Although there have been over a hundred complaints against actions and intimidation by the police during these years, they have had little echo in the media.

This silence was broken briefly for information in April 2011 when a camera recorded two protesters seized two policemen accidentally joked among themselves about rape while they were under their custody. The scandal made headlines in the media but they nevertheless gave the news in isolation, avoiding mention of complaints going above and tiptoed down the context of the protest.

Posted Date: 
15 June 2012