Providence awarded Dalkey licence
Environmental groups have criticised the Government after Irish-listed oil and gas exploration company Providence Resources was awarded a foreshore licence for the Dalkey Island prospect in Dublin Bay.
The licence for an area in the Kish Bank basin allows the company to carry out a 2D seismic study, a well site survey and drill an exploration well.
Providence will now proceed with procurement activities for a site survey vessel and drilling unit to drill the Dalkey Island prospect.
The westernmost edge of the licence area lies about 10km from Dalkey Island. Some local groups have raised concerns about the implications of the field’s development.
Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan earlier this year rejected calls for a public inquiry into the licence application. A public consultation process yielded almost 700 submissions and 4,100 petitions.
Dún Laoghaire People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett today condemned the decision to grant the licence, describing it as "an absolute disgrace".
Mr Boyd Barrett said an environmental impact assessment should have been carried out first and the practice of holding inquiries, as is done in Norway, should also have been done in advance.
An Taisce claimed the potential threats to Dublin Bay have not been adequately assessed in the approval of the licence.
“This is the first time that a licence with potential major threats of pollution so close to the shore line has been granted, “ it sad.
“Overall, the assessment of the potential impacts of this exploration and drilling licence were not adequately evaluated to ensure the protection of a number of species and habitats. The precautionary principle should have been applied until the concerns voiced by An Taisce and others were addressed.
The fact that the Minister for Environment, Community, and Local Government has failed to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment to guard against an ad-hoc and piecemeal approach to exploration and extraction applications and that in our opinion, the applicant should have had to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment could lead to a complaint to the European Commission showing that once more Ireland has failed to implement European environmental law."
According to an Oil Spill Contingency Plan for the Department of the Environment, a serious oil spill from the Dalkey basin could travel 6km in the first hour.
“In environmental terms, this project is extremely close to the shore, but in economic terms, it might as well be off the coast of Malaysia," said William Hederman, editor of IrishOilandGas.com. “There will be no local benefits.”
Serena Connor, of the Protect Our Coast campaign, said the lack of a public inquiry on the application was regrettable.
“We feel that the main issues of environmental damage, public consultation, fiscal terms and future alternative energy sources have been given no proper consideration in this decision,” she said.