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News release: Devastating report exposes State's mismanagement of oil & gas resources

News release - Issued by Dublin Shell to Sea - Monday 10th September 2012

-- Research reveals company estimates of 21 billion barrels in licensed areas -- 

Oil and gas under the areas of Ireland’s seabed already licensed to private companies is worth more than €1,600 billion (€1.6 trillion), according to the companies’ own estimates. The figure is contained in a groundbreaking new report that reveals a more complete picture of the extent of exploration in Irish territory and exposes the State’s failure to effectively manage Ireland’s natural resources. 

The research is presented in the form of a map and tables in a major new guide to the issues, ‘Liquid Assets’, published by the Dublin Shell to Sea campaign and launched today (Monday 10 September) by Paul Murphy MEP. 

By trawling through figures published by oil exploration companies, researchers compiled companies' estimates for a total of 69 different discoveries, “prospects” and other areas licensed for oil and gas exploration. The combined total of those company estimates is 20,964 million barrels of oil equivalent (of oil or gas), worth €1,600 billion at today’s prices. 

Paul Murphy MEP said: “This devastating report exposes the State’s utter failure to manage Ireland’s natural resources on behalf of people in Ireland. Not only ownership, but also control of Ireland’s oil and gas is being handed over to private corporations.” 

“People are increasingly aware that Ireland’s ‘take’ from its oil and gas is far lower than in other countries. The Government and oil industry have defended this by insisting that ‘attractive’ terms will lead to investment, jobs and our own supply of oil.” 

“What this excellent new publication reveals is that, thanks to the bizarre licensing terms passed down by Ray Burke, extraction of our valuable resources will not necessarily bring any benefits to Ireland. Companies can export directly from the field, providing no jobs or economic spin-offs and no supply to the Irish market.” 

Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Criostoir MacCuirc said: “The Government and oil industry defend Ireland’s giveaway licensing terms by claiming that Ireland is an ‘unproven territory’, where exploration is minimal. This painstaking new research tells a different story.” 

“While it is important to note that oil companies may talk up their prospects to attract investors, on the other hand this figure is conservative, in that it only includes areas that have been licensed and for which estimates exist. Overall, this groundbreaking research shows that Ireland is surrounded by scores of promising areas. These are already licensed to private companies, who will own and control all of the oil and gas they contain.” 

Caoimhe Kerins of Dublin Shell to Sea said: “The recent announcement by Providence Resources that its Barryroe field contains up to 1.6 billion barrels of oil should come as yet another wake-up call that our valuable natural resources are flowing into the coffers of private companies.” 

“We undertook this project because the debate around Ireland’s natural resources has been beset by myths and misinformation, mostly created by the oil industry and successive Governments. This booklet explains the realities behind these myths.” 

UCD academic and Afri chairperson Dr Andy Storey, who spoke at the launch, said: “This report makes the valuable point that leaving the resources in the hands of private corporations gets us nowhere – we need to assume public ownership of these resources and then decide, democratically, how, if at all, they are to be made use of.” 

‘Liquid Assets’ cites a 2003 study for Shell, which projected that the total State ‘take’ from the Corrib Gas field would be just €340 million euro, or 7% of the project’s revenue. 

'Liquid Assets' provides a much-needed critical analysis of Ireland's management of its hydrocarbons; compares our fiscal regime to those of other countries; and explores some policy alternatives available to Ireland with concrete examples from comparable countries. It examines the dangers of fracking; considers the question of fossil fuel extraction in the light of climate change; and documents the resistance of communities in north Mayo to the Corrib Gas project. 

The 44-page booklet has an initial print run of 5,000. Copies will be sent in the coming days to TDs, Senators and councillors, newsrooms, NGOs and trades unions. The booklet has a cover price of €2.

The map and tables are backed by an extensive online spreadsheet containing detailed sources and further information. These and a PDF of the booklet can be downloaded from:



Criostóir Mac Cuirc 087 9241641

Caoimhe Kerins 085 8328130

Andy Storey 087 6543872

Paul Murphy 086 1688050