Government talks must focus on evidence, facts and science not political expediency

Statement by the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association

Poor decisions on future energy policy at the continuing discussions on Government formation run the real risk of stifling economic recovery, according to the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA).

The representative body for companies licenced to explore for and produce gas and oil off the Irish coast fears that evidence, facts and the science on the energy needs for a vibrant economy are being brushed aside for political expediency.

IOOA says the reality is that natural gas has been providing up to 80% of daily power generation during the Covid-19 emergency. If we do not repeat the success of the Kinsale Head and Corrib Gas fields this gas will have to be imported from abroad, transported through post-Brexit Britain.

IOOA says not only would such a move raise serious energy supply concerns but would also undermine investment and jobs into coastal areas.

Mandy Johnston, CEO of the Association says:

“Those sitting around the negotiating table in the talks on Government formation need to listen to the warnings from the ESRI and other experts that we are at serious risk of the deepest recession ever faced by our country. This is not a time to take policy decisions solely on the basis of short-term political gain.

We need sound decisions which put in place the infrastructure for recovery. This includes energy supplies. Important for any country, this security is needed even more for an open economy like ours which is largely based on sectors with huge demands for reliable and secure power in order to run data centres, pharmaceutical plants and a major agri-food sector.

Politicians have a duty to look at the evidence. The question about whether we need gas into the future is mute – we will continue to need gas even if Ireland was to hit all its climate action commitments. We are now at a crossroads where we need to decide if we aim to repeat the success of Kinsale Head and Corrib by developing our own offshore natural gas resources or if we import gas from foreign countries.

Importing gas not only puts foreign powers, like Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, in charge of supply and price but it also is bad for our carbon emissions. When we import gas through the UK we are importing from an importer – this generates up to 30% more emissions than using our own natural gas.

It also makes us more vulnerable and increasingly reliant on a non-EU state which at any given time has only 7-days’ supply of gas in storage to meet its own demands – and is dependent on aging and unreliable energy infrastructure.

Last year the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, TD promised an Independent Review of Energy Supply. Failure to deliver on that commitment means we now run the real danger of policy decisions being taken in a void of information which suit political survival more than the urgent need to ensure we literally have the power to recover.

As we plan for restarting the economy, it is also vital that we encourage investment into areas that can produce employment, especially in regions of the country that have not seen a major recovery following the financial crisis, and that can generate revenue for the State. Across its lifetime the Corrib field for example will contribute approx. €6 billion to Irish GDP.

Our offshore petroleum sector has that proven potential – producing jobs, benefitting local economies and providing investment in infrastructure like roads, broadband and ports – and can do that again if the government decides to allow and encourage the development of our offshore gas resources by lifting the question-mark over licences which is causing huge uncertainty. ”


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