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Just how bad is Ireland's Oil & Gas Deal

(Johnston 2008)

A 2008 study of forty five international fiscal systems [1] by petroleum consultant Daniel Johnston shows that Ireland has the lowest returns from its gas and oil of all the countries studied. Ireland’s returns are half of US and UK and less that one third of Norway.

As the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources once boasted ‘Ireland has had the best fiscal terms in the world for exploration and production’ [2] as apparent in the following diagram.

(Indecon 2007)


Here are 4 graphics from report done by the US Government Accountability Office in 2007 on Oil & Gas Royalties Worldwide [3].  They show Ireland as having the second worst deal in terms of Government Take, after only Cameroon.


Dick Spring - 20th October 1987 – then leader of the Labour Party on the introduction of the giveaway terms introduced by Ray Burke which were subsequently improved (for the oil companies) 5 years later by Bertie Ahern.

“We will now, as a result of the changes this Government have made, get absolutely no return whatever from the development of any foreseeable oil find .....
What is most serious about this development is that there has been, up to now, a certain level of national consensus about how we should view our natural resources — even parties that did not really believe it were prepared to pay lip service to the notion that the natural resources of Ireland belonged to the people of Ireland. In the breaking of that consensus, and in their cold-blooded decision to give those resources away, Fianna Fáil have committed what I have already described as an act of economic treason, one for which I believe they should not be forgiven by the young people and by the people at large.”





[1] Johnston, D. (2008). Changing fiscal landscape. Journal of World Energy Law and Business, 1 (1) , 31-54.

[2] Indecon International Economic Consultants, (2007). Expert advice on review of Irish petroleum E & P licensing terms. London: Indecon.

[3] US Government Accountability Office (2007). Oil and Gas Royalties: A Comparison of the Share of Revenue Received from Oil and Gas Production by the Federal Government and Other Resource Owners

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Posted Date: 
21 April 2011