IOOA Welcomes Dáil Debate on Energy Security
The Irish Offshore Operators Association (IOOA) welcomes the upcoming Private Members Bill tabled by the Rural Independent Group for the 15th of June 2022.
Recent comments by Minister Eamon Ryan in the Seanad on May 19th included stark and inaccurate statements in relation to Ireland’s offshore exploration and production. The Minister has suggested that the only proposed Irish exploration is in very deep waters far offshore. This is simply not true. For example, the Barryroe Field is located in shallow waters only 50 kilometres off the Cork coast, close to the depleted Kinsale gas field.
There are also additional licences adjacent to the Corrib gas field which could extend the life of that field for many decades. Indeed, the industry has presented an option to develop not one, but two low carbon energy hubs at Corrib and Barryroe. Yet, still, Minister Ryan refuses to engage with an industry that is not only currently supplying 30% of our gas needs, but has the capacity to deliver more local low carbon energy in the long term. As an industry, we are committed to contributing meaningfully to Irish energy security and we want to play a positive and substantive role in the energy transition. In the meantime, the Energy Security Review promised in the Programme for Government in June 2020 has still not been published.
The Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) recently ranked Ireland as the fourth most energy insecure country in Europe. Currently, we import 70% of our energy needs through two interconnectors running from the UK to Ireland. Our reliance on the UK for our energy needs puts us in an extremely vulnerable position and is totally unsustainable.
We are at a critical juncture in planning for Ireland’s energy future and we know that there are significant challenges facing us in relation to security of supply, geopolitical uncertainty, and our transition to carbon neutral status by 2050.
Ireland has a clear goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 and we acknowledge that expanding renewable sources of energy must be our main focus in the years ahead. However, the reality of the situation is that trains, tractors, trucks, trawlers, planes and the bulk of the existing car and van fleet run on oil. We cannot become a green economy overnight, when 87% of our total energy supply still comes from fossil fuels. Neither the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, or any international body, envisages an energy system supplied entirely by renewable energy in the coming decades.
From an environmental perspective, the production of oil and gas locally has a significantly lower environmental impact than oil and gas which is imported. We can produce gas that has between four and thirteen times less carbon intensity than foreign imported gas. This is due to enhanced production technologies and shorter transport distances. The effect of current Irish Government policy, which purports to protect the environment, only increases our emissions by forcing Ireland to rely on importing all of its gas and oil needs from other far-off countries, at a time when EU gas and oil production is rapidly declining. This is not the right strategy from an environmental or energy security perspective.
On the one hand, the Government admits we need more gas-fired power generation to ensure continued security of electricity supply. Yet on the other, the Government is choosing to put our energy security at risk by relying solely on post-Brexit Britain for the gas supply necessary for that energy generation.
IOOA is calling on all parties in the Dáil to engage meaningfully in this critically important debate. Our energy security is a matter of national importance and there are pragmatic solutions on our own doorstep. As an industry, we are ready, willing and able to support the energy transition to a carbon neutral economy and to meet ongoing demand during that transition.