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Ireland's natural resources given away while cuts are called for

category national | consumer issues | other press author Saturday January 31, 2009 19:38author by gas man Report this post to the editors

A short article in the Irish edition of the Daily Mirror points out the absurdity of the country making cutbacks in public services while sitting on billions of euro worth of natural resources, and happily handing them over to the most profitable companies in the world.

A quick quote at the end makes clear that Fine Gael see nothing wrong with the present system, seeing the giveaway of 100 per cent of what is found as an "incentive". Presumably if Simon Coveney had gold buried in his garden, he would give it all away to anyone who was prepared to help him dig for it, keeping none for himself...

(article printed here in full because the Irish Daily Mirror is not on the web).
up for grabs- Ireland's resources
up for grabs- Ireland's resources

SITTING ON A FORTUNE -EUR5trillion Oil Field Could Defeat Recession but Gloom Grows
Friday, January 30, 2009 4:58 PM
(Source: Daily Mirror)trackingBy TOM PRENDEVILLE

IRELAND has EUR5.4trillion of oil lying off the west coast, it was revealed yesterday.

The oil reserve is enough to pay off our national debt of EUR60billion almost a hundred times over and banish our recession woes for decades to come.

But contracts with foreign companies are preventing us from selling it and transforming us into the Saudi Arabia of Europe.

The state's lawyers will have to renegotiate with the multinational firms or they will pocket all the profits.

A report by Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources stated: "The potential is of at least 10 billion barrels of oil lying off the west coast of Ireland.

"Well data indicate world-class source rocks. Volumetric assessment and expulsion modelling shows volumes of over 130 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of gas."

Most of the Irish oil and gas deposits have been pinpointed along an underwater ridge known as the Atlantic Margin which runs parallel to our western shore.

The Dunquin gas field, which is 200km off the coast of Kerry, contains 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 4,130 million barrels of oil.

This alone would meet our gas needs - at present consumption levels - for the next 62 years.

The Dunquin field is currently being developed by Exxon Mobil, and several other partners. The Spanish Point field, located 200km off the coast of Clare, has known reserves of one and a quarter trillion cubic feet of gas and 206 million barrels of oil.

Further north lies Corrib, Co Mayo, which has an estimated value of anywhere between EUR6billion to EUR50billion.

The field - which has been the scene of much controversy - is being developed by Shell, Marathon and Statoil.

Inland lies the Lough Allen basin, which is valued at EUR75billion and contains 9.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.

This vast field lies beneath Lough Allen and the foreshore area surrounding it and straddles counties Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.

Local farmers who own this land have the potential to become gas millionaires.

But multi-national oil companies are likely to get all the money unless the state re-negotiates exploration contracts.

The firms who are harvesting the Corrib gas fields will only have to pay 25 per cent on the profit and most of this can be written- off against exploration and operating costs.

Although the new rate of tax is 40 per cent this rate only applies to new exploration licenses and does not cover the existing oil and gas finds. Fine Gael spokesman for energy and natural resources Simon Coveney said: "We are desperately in need of money.

"If we get a big find we need to make sure we get a decent return, and when you go above a certain find, a different return.

"There needs to be an incentive there too, because it costs EUR70million any time they do an exploration drill.

"The state cannot afford to do that so we leave it to the private sector. It is a fine balance and we need to be careful we don't drive the exploration companies away."

author by psephologistpublication date Sat Jan 31, 2009 20:17author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It seems that all the political parties who have a chance of being in government - FF, FG, the Green Party and the Labour Party, are in favour of giving away the country's resources.

Only Sinn Féin, of all the parties in Dáil, have come out and explicitly said they would alter the system.

But SF have been ruled out from being in government by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

The smaller parties have varying positions on this issue,but little representation or hope of being in government.

So, as far as this issue is concerned, democracy has been abolished. No matter who is the minister after the next election, the oil and gas in Irish territory will still be handed over to the likes of Exxon and Shell.

Meanwhile, teachers, bus drivers, nurses and others will see their jobs cut.

author by sampublication date Sun Feb 01, 2009 16:18author email samsimpson at utvinternet dot comauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

This is a scandal of epic proportions , to rival anything since our (partial and so-called) Independence.
The lack of vision, total void of accountability or national sense of ambition or basic sense of responsibility or integrity by our gombeen politicians reaches an apex.
It is no less than criminal what they have done, and they deserve no more than a hefty spell in a national labour camp after a people's Revolution.
Why oh why do we put up with them....?

author by rianorr - nonepublication date Mon Feb 02, 2009 14:16author address author phone Report this post to the editors

There should be a referendum on this issue of ownership of these resources.

The abject surrender of this valuable resource by the Fianna Fail 'ure government
has to be challenged and reversed so that the people of Ireland get a just return
for developing the gas field.

Politicians, as usual, cannot be trusted. The interests they represent are the same people
who have bankrupted the country while enriching themselves. The longer they continue in power
the more damage will be done.

author by bocpublication date Fri Feb 06, 2009 18:52author address author phone Report this post to the editors

1. Has the legality of the agreement with the energy companies been tested?
2. If not, could they be?
3. Is it possible to reverse the government’s decision on the give-away of our natural resources?
4. What does it take to do so?

Your comments are appreciated.

author by angrymanpublication date Wed Feb 25, 2009 13:26author address author phone Report this post to the editors

3. Is it possible to reverse the government’s decision on the give-away of our natural resources?
4. What does it take to do so?

A different government could do it with the stroke of a pen.
The oil and gas companies might not like, it but half a loaf is better than no bread.
The problem with doing it, is that it does tend to lead towards the CIA/MI5 fomenting the overthrow of whatever fragile democracy you might have had. (take Iran's renegotiation of the deal for their oil, leading to the overthrow of Mossadeq and the return of the Monarchy, backed by powermongers)

author by mescalito murphy - mescalitopublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 01:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

is this a big surprise??
Of course bertie and burke sold us out, whie the latter has already served time behind bars for corruption ,the other explains away his ill gotten gains as a dig out from his buddys!!!
Sinn Fein seem to be the only mainstream party with plans to take some revenue back from the money hungry oil companies

author by bean counterpublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 17:07author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The answer to "boc's" questions are:

1: The legality of the agreement between the State and the oil industry has never been tested.

2. The reason it has never been tested is that there is no reason whatsoever to believe that it would be illegal or unlawful.

3. If the State broke the agreement it would be sued by Shell, because in return for Shell agreeing to drill a specific number of wells within a particular timespan, Shell was to be paid an agreed price per cubic metre for delivery of the gas into the national grid (The agreement didn't give "ownership" of the gas to Shell). Shell spent a very very large sum of money and accepted the risk if no oil or gas were found in carrying out its part of the deal. Under Irish law Shell would be entitled to recover damages in the amount it has spent in exploration and drilling, and an amount equal to its projected future earnings from the well. Probably, several billion euro - no problem in these times of plenty. This contract is also a constitutionally protected property right ,and the State could no more confiscate it without compensation than it could steal your property without compensation. This is aside from the consequences for future inward investment (and existing foreign investment) and our membership of the EU of any attempt to abrogate the State's obligations.

In future, and to avoid the possibility that our abundant and easily recovered oil and gas resources might be "stolen" by Shell or some other beastly multi-national, I suggest that the Irish tax-payer should shoulder the entire risks of future oil exploration using the Pension Reserve Fund as colateral. This, as anyone who has absorbed the Ladybird edition of Das Capital will know, would be brilliant economic sense.

author by Fearbolg - s2spublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 23:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You're an optimistic man if you think the Pension Reserve Fund is still there

author by counterpublication date Wed Dec 02, 2009 14:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I think the fact that Ray Burke who was later found to be corrupt by the tribunal of inquiry negotiated the deal is enough of a reason to have misgivings about the lega;lity of the deal with Shell.

The other points that "bean counter" makes about a deal to sink wells in return for gas being sold at a specified price are not true. There is no such agreement. Shell's deal just says that they have rights to explore in certain areas and keep whatever they find, and that the royalty rate is set at zero. A government minister could change the royalty to say, 25% without any legal ramifications whatever.

They'd have to have the balls to face down the multinationals and the gentlemen who wrote whatever they are told to for the O'Reilly press.

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