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Why Occupy Corrib House?

category dublin | environment | feature author Wednesday March 28, 2007 14:14author by w. - wsm (pers cap)author email improvemyself at hotmail dot com Report this post to the editors

End the Gas Giveaway!

featured image

This morning myself and a number of my comrades from the WSM along with members of Eirigi occupied the roof and reception of Corrib House to draw attention to the state giveaway of Irelands natural resources. Outlined here is my understanding of why we need to act to regain control of our resources.

Over 200 gardai have been stationed indefinitely in a small community in the West of Ireland who are resisting the construction of an on land refinery and dangerous high pressure pipeline. There have been violent scenes as the states forces step in to ensure the construction goes ahead. While many people focus on the safety of the pipeline a greater controversy is going unnoticed, that our government has given away 8 billion euro worth of gas, enough to provide the needs of the entire nation for the next 20 years, to a private company who are only obliged to sell 30% of this back to us and that will be at normal market prices

Related Links: Audio report of Tuesday's occupation | Indymedia Mayo Archive | Shell to Sea | Rossport Solidarity Camp | éirígí | WSM |

. Added to this the Dunquin field, which is 10 times the size of Corrib and apparently one of the 20 biggest oil and gas fields in the world, was given to Media-Monopolist Tony O Reilly’s company Providence Resources for 1euro.

The Corrib gas field was discovered in 1996, lies 70km off the north west coast of Mayo and is roughly 250 million years old. It is currently owned by a consortium of Shell, Statoil and Marathon who received permission from Mayo council to begin work in 2004 subject to 75 conditions. The gas field is part of a larger basin of gas fields estimated to be worth over 50 billion euro (At $60 a barrel). The original licence for the Corrib gas field was granted to Enterprise Energy Ireland, a group who held annual fund-raising events for Fianna Fail at the Galway races from 1998 until 2001. In 2002 the Shell-led consortium bought out Enterprise Energy.

In 1975 Ireland had a tax rate of 50% for gas companies as well as an automatic stake of 50% on any commercial well and royalties of 6%-7% on gas extracted. In 1987, Ray Burke, who was later found to be “corrupt” by the Flood Tribunal, removed the 50% state stake and royalties following lobbying by gas companies. This was then reduced to 25% with a 100% tax write off by Bobby Molloy, former minister for Energy and Fianna Fail’er turned Progressive Democrat. This massive change in policy means that not only do we not benefit from our own natural resources but due to tax breaks we are also paying the companies to extract them.

While other European states can take between 55% to 80% of a field, Norwegian citizens via Statoil stand to benefit more from the Corrib field than Irish citizens. Venezuela and Bolivia have seen moves by their respective governments to nationalise their oil supplies recently and have changed the status of companies extracting gas and oil to “partners” with the state claiming ultimate ownership of the oil. This gas could be used to fund our health service, public transport and to provide a sustainable infrastructure based on renewable energy, it could also alongside Dunquinn serves Western Europes oil and gas needs for a considerable period ending dependency on imported gas.

I took part in the occupation of Corrib house because I want the gas deal to be renegotiated and I feel that a broader struggle for national resources is vital as we enter an era in which oil prices are constantly rising while supplies are starting to dwindle. This is just the start of a very long battle – but we must start to bring attention to the gas give-away and fight for a better Ireland.

author by w.publication date Tue Mar 27, 2007 17:02author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dublin Shell to Sea are asking members and supporters to assemble at Shell HQ on the corner of Lwr Leeson St and the Grand Canal at 1pm this Friday.

author by Inigo Montoyapublication date Tue Mar 27, 2007 17:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Very well written and straight to the point.

author by Johnpublication date Tue Mar 27, 2007 20:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You fail to mention that between 1975 and 1987, when the higher tax regime applied, not a drop of oil or cubic foot of gas was discovered in Irish waters and that, by the end of that period, exploration in Irish waters had come to a complete halt. When will you realise that Ireland is not a major oil province? Its not even a medium oil province. Its not even a small oil province. The reality is that there is hardly any oil or gas in Irish waters in comparison with those countries which are major producers. In this respect we're no different to most countries in the world. Only a few countries in the world have significant oil/gas reserves. That's why there's a shortage. If every country had significant oil/gas reserves, there'd be no shortage and it would be dirt cheap. All the countries you mention are the lucky few in which hundreds of commercial oil and gas discoveries have been made. In Ireland almost 40 years of exploration, at a cost of billions to the exploration companies, have resulted in only two small gas discoveries and zero oil discoveries. To suggest that a country with this track record for commercial oil discoveries should impose the same tax regime as countries in which hundreds of commercial discoveries have been made is crazy socialist economics. Suppose you get a left-wing government that introduces a similar tax regime for oil/gas discoveries in Irish waters similar to what pertains in Norway or Venezuela? In that case, why on earth would any oil exploration company bother to explore in Irish waters when the hit rate for successful oil/gas discoveries is a tiny fraction of what pertains in those countries? This warped thinking was what drove socialist Justin Keating to impose a much harsher tax regime for oil exploration in 1975. And the result? As I said at the start of this post, oil exploration ground to a halt and not a drop of oil or cubic foot of gas was discovered until the Keating tax regime was replaced in the late 80s/early 90s and exploration resumed in Irish waters, resulting in hundreds of jobs and the Corrib discovery a few years later.

author by running dogpublication date Tue Mar 27, 2007 20:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So John, if we left the gas there and just bought our energy from abroad instead of from Shell, what difference would it actually make?

Apart from the improvements in the community relations, the freeing up of hundreds of cops and the loss of all of the articles on this site?

I guess there might be some job losses in Erris at the site, but they are short term positions moving peat around, and the improvements in the area's tourist potential would more than make up for it.

So John, what's in it for us?

author by Billy Idle!!publication date Wed Mar 28, 2007 05:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Try learning a little economics John. Additonally wIth North Sea reserves running out areas along the Atlantic Sea-board naturally become the new prospecting hot-spots. PLus your claim that there was a dearth of finds around Ireland in the 70's does not stand up - how do you explain the success of the Kinsale gas field etc??. In Scotland the push for Independence is being bolstered by the propect of proven reserves of oil and gas off the Scottish Atlantic coast next door to the gas fields off Donegal. You can be sure any new Scottish governemnt won't be handing it all over to Shell and their type for next to nothing like the clowns who are meant to be running this country!!!

author by John Boypublication date Wed Mar 28, 2007 12:29author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Shame on Shell for taking advantage of the fact that they don't have to pay royalties or automatically give Ireland ownership of any gas field that they explore.

I mean, surely they should have told the government that they weren't going to do anything until such things were imposed. The baxtards.

author by w.publication date Wed Mar 28, 2007 14:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's pretty obvious that Shell, Enterprise energy and other oil/gas interests lobbied (we know what that means in an Irish context, brown envelopes) to create the lucrative situation they have today. It's now time to renegotiate the deal, I don't think deals made with corrupt politicians count for much.

author by Sarah - s2spublication date Wed Mar 28, 2007 17:42author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It has been shown in various studies that the presence of resources such as oil gas diamonds and minerals results in bad governance,represssion,military coups, foregin invasion, internal civil conflict and high levels of national debt. Just think of all the countries with heavy resource deposits that you can..Congo, Nigeria , Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Saudi and Iraq.Norway and the nordic countries are the only ones which balance this equation unless you count the USA.

author by Oily Fellowpublication date Wed Mar 28, 2007 20:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

One factor left out by John's analysis is the closeness of the Irish deposits to their intended source markets. It has been commented [1] that the major trends visible in petroleum consumption has been that consumption centers tend to source from geographically closer production sites. The gas in the North Sea and adjacent Atlantic is very handy both to the EU and the US.

Coupled with a docile population and a corrupt government, Ireland is an oil exploiter's wet dream.

[1] e.g. Chomsky notes that the US occupation of Iraq is widely recognised by political scientists to not be for the oil, but to control the oil. The US itself has since the mid-70's imported mostly from Latin America and Nigeria.

author by wageslavepublication date Thu Mar 29, 2007 02:36author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You forgot to mention the cost of the cleanup operation to the irish taxpayer. Shell and other oil companies are great at getting the stuff out but not so great when it comes to cleaning up their own mess. They usually try to "externalise" this bit

Also, will the cost of their carbon and methane emissions contribute to our stealth carbon tax bill?

IMHO We would be clearly better off leaving the stuff where it is unless the deal is radically re-negotiated.

When everything is taken into account, It will probably cost us money to give our gas away to shell

Also, I thought bertie ahearn had a hand in reducing the rate of corporation tax which would apply to shell from 50% to 25%.

oh..and john, when you finish sucking corporate cock, please suck mine you asshole.

(note to editor: if you find the previous line offensive, please feel free to delete it. I just couldn't think of anything else fitting to say to john sorry!)

author by iosafpublication date Thu Mar 29, 2007 16:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

On every level we are fighting the criminal theft & destrucion of the planet. Chomsky does indeed note the "control" rather than "supply" of Oil and Iraq - pity though so many people like to keep things in the light & ignore the other trades & their routes. As I've told ye since before this war - which I wrote they couldn't prosecute - smack is more valuable than oil & your civilisation is reliant on its production, supply & delivery. Like it or not - naturally most people don't like it because they mostly haven't tried it & thus didn't learn to respect that dragon.

If you live in Ireland & haven't joined the campaign against Shell - please do it! for the sake of the millions of people whose lands are destroyed and squalor eternalised by the same system we seem so happy to think we are hooked on. "western capitalism & fossil fuels".

author by pess in the mistpublication date Thu Mar 29, 2007 16:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

But why did you occupy Corrib House?

Like, I know the overall issue - but how does getting on the roof for an hour overturn the decisions by the EPA, ABP, and the Government? And/or any other decisions made by the bodies or state institutions involved in the planning and execution of it?

Likewise, apart from a summer of one-day-a-month days of solidarity and a never-ending residents picket with protestors camp (until the project is finished), can anyone really think of a solid process in which this project will actually get completely stopped and turned around from what's already been started?

Just that pushing up against the fence in Shannon never got rid of the US planes - I dont see how it will stop Shell building their terminal.

I'm serious about this - what do people really think will happen. What needs to happen if they think the S2S campaign (all strands) is to be a success?

Answers on a postcard please.

author by Cormacpublication date Fri Mar 30, 2007 04:04author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Click on the link below to view an update of the éirígí campaign for the nationalisation of Ireland's natural resources:


éirígí & WSM activists inside Shell HQ on Tuesday
éirígí & WSM activists inside Shell HQ on Tuesday

author by Celia Spublication date Fri Mar 30, 2007 09:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great work comrades


author by Tonypublication date Fri Mar 30, 2007 10:48author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yeah great work but..

If the SWP went off and did a similar action, and then asked the rest of us to back it, the WSM would be giving out hell.

author by w.publication date Fri Mar 30, 2007 11:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The above comment about the SWP is bizarre, if they ever occupied anything (apart from the steering committee of the IAWM) I'd welcome it. Just like the WSM welcomed the Raytheon action.

how does getting on the roof for an hour overturn the decisions by the EPA, ABP, and the Government? And/or any other decisions made by the bodies or state institutions involved in the planning and execution of it?

It was roof and foyer for 3 hours, but you're right it doesn't overturn the decision - what it did do was get our message into the media (and on the front page of indymedia). We weren't just calling for Shell To Sea, we were demanding control over our natural resources. It's not a battle for one day, or one that a few simple occupations will solve - we need a movement but they have to start somewhere. This action is the start of building for that. Eirigi have distributed 35,000 natural resources leaflets, it all ties in. Even Vincent Browne was sounding off about the bad deal we got on Corrib last night (rte radio 1).

author by Faughna O'Halloran - SWPpublication date Mon Apr 02, 2007 15:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think this got some coverage in the business pages of the Sunday Tribune. Didn't see it myself but a friend told me about it. did anyone see it? Is it online?

author by Readerpublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 01:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't think there was any broadcast media attention for this, not even a mention on a local radio station, let alone TV.

I didn't see anything either in the IT, The Independent or the Examiner, nor was there anything in any of the Sundays that I saw.

Maybe I'm missing something, but doing something like this just to get on indymedia seems a bit pointless. Most people who look at indymedia are fairly supportive of this campaign anyway.

author by Stephen S - Nonepublication date Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors


Here it is - they take the piss a bit. Looks like an April fools thing.

Related Link: http://www.tribune.ie/article.tvt?_scope=TribuneFTF&id=84273&SUBCAT=&SUBCATNAME=&DT=01/04/2007%2000
author by Louise Gaffneypublication date Tue Apr 10, 2007 20:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good work , any plans for raising this in the faces of the politicans who will be swarming all over the place shortly?

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