"The Government have clearly sent the message to Shell, ‘you can do whatever you want’. Fortunately due to protest, the refinery remains unconnected to the gas field. If, as Shell planned, gas had been flowing by now, we would potentially all be dealing with a gas leak and explosion.”
A moratorium should be placed on the issuing of oil and gas exploration licences until the completion of a promised Oireachtas review of the licensing system, a wide-ranging SIPTU report on the development of Ireland’s hydrocarbon resources has recommended. “Optimising Ireland’s Oil and Gas Resources”, a report produced by the SIPTU Oil and Gas Review Group, concludes that, if managed correctly, the country’s hydrocarbon reserves could provide the basis for a major indigenous industry which could generate long term employment and significant revenues for the State.
Launching the report in Dublin today (Thursday, 30th June) SIPTU general president, Jack O’Connor, said; “It is the considered view of the SIPTU Oil and Gas Review Group that no new exploration licenses for oil and gas should be issued by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) until a detailed re-assessment of the current licensing system is completed under the proposed Oireachtas review.”
Jack O’Connor said that the Oireachtas review should “have the widest possible brief”, considering possible changes to the licensing system and the potential for economic development, job creation, skills enhancement and training which a properly managed hydrocarbon industry could provide.
Although the scale of Ireland’s recoverable oil and gas resources remains unknown the DCENR has estimated, that at current prices, reserves in the Atlantic margin off Ireland’s west coast are potentially worth €750 billion, the equivalent of Ireland’s supply needs for 100 years based on current consumption.
A 2008 analysis showed that Ireland had the lowest rate of government tax rate of 45 fiscal systems studied, the report states.
The report also recommends that the current exploration licensing system, which binds the Irish State into fixed contract terms without prior knowledge of the value of the reserves in the relevant fields, should be re-considered.
“This discussion document is intended as a contribution to the public debate that must be advanced prior to the Oireachtas review to ensure that we achieve the most appropriate licensing system in order to optimise the potential of our oil and gas resources,” Jack O’Connor said.