"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.”
An Oireachtas committee on the exploration sector off Ireland's coast has recommended a big increase on the tax take for exploration companies who strike oil and gas off Ireland.
It suggests a tax take of between 40% and 80% to maximise the benefit to Ireland from oil and natural gas resources.
Ireland currently applies a rate of 25% before capital writes offs.
There are 11 recommendations in the report.
Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said he recognised the common sense of some of them and he would welcome the opportunity to discuss them more in the Dáil.
However, Minister Rabbitte said Ireland could not compete with Norway, where 78% of the cost of drilling a hole was refunded if it was found to be dry.
He said he would be taken away to the “funny farm” if he applied Norway style rebates in Irish waters given the track record of success.
Mr Rabbitte added that high oil prices did not make Ireland any more or less attractive relative to other countries and the principal attraction was the perceived likelihood of making a new discovery.
People Before Profit Alliance TD Richard Boyd Barrett said the people of Ireland get next to nothing from oil and gas development in the country.
Mr Boyd Barrett said oil prices were on an upward trajectory and likely to remain so fuelling the interest of exploration companies, while Ireland was also relatively stable compared to other locations.