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Protecting our resources

Letters to the Irish Times

Sir, – As a former ambassador to Denmark and Norway (1998-2001) I would like to endorse your call for judicious and far-sighted harvesting of this country’s oil and gas reserves (Editorial, August 29th).

Oil wealth can often prove to be a curse, but the Nordic countries are examples of the positive impact that natural resources can have on small, well-managed, open societies. Both Norway and Denmark benefit from strong parliaments which carefully monitor the actions of government and civil service in dividing up a resource which is the property of the people. Their allocation of exploration and extraction licences is accordingly transparent, well-informed and clearly subordinate to the public good.

I was also ambassador to Indonesia under Suharto (1987-1989) where massive natural resources provided little benefit to ordinary citizens.

If we cannot now replicate the factors that have helped the Nordic countries maximise the social benefit of oil and gas extraction, perhaps we should leave the resources in the ground as a form of national savings-which can only increase in value and strengthen our negotiating hand – to offset the massive borrowings that we are imposing on future generations. – Yours, etc,


Clonmany, Co Donegal.

Posted Date: 
5 September 2011