Minister insists there are ‘no hidden reservoirs’ of oil ahead of licence review
Government reviewing oil exploration licence terms
Richard Boyd Barrett: claimed oil companies were waiting for an opportune moment to extract Irish oil and get maximum profits.
The Government is re-examining the terms of oil exploration licences, Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd has confirmed.
But he insisted “there are no hidden reservoirs that somebody has their hands on and will press a button to activate sometime in the future”.
The Dún Laoghaire TD held up a jar of light crude oil, which he said was a small sample taken from a tanker in 1997. “A week’s pumping filled a tanker. Where did it go, who took it and did we get any money for it?”
Mr O’Dowd, Minister of State for Energy, said the oil came from Connemara during a 69-day test when 16,500 barrels of oil were transferred to a tanker rather than being flared off, but the well was not commercially sustainable.
Since exploration began in the 1960s, there have been a number of non-commercial discoveries, including the Connemara field. “There have been no commercial discoveries.”
Statoil drilled two appraisal wells in 1997, but the wells were subsequently plugged and abandoned. The Minister said Statoil relinquished the acreage to the State in October 1999.
He said they were looking at current and future terms of licences, but not retrospectively. In 2011, 13 licensing options were given. Twelve were converting into “frontier exploration licences”, which was positive and constructive.
But Mr Boyd Barrett said Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte had told him there had been no oil finds since the 1970s. “He did not say ‘no commercial oil finds’,” the Dún Laoghaire TD said.
One of Statoil’s then directors had since stated that it was a mistake to plug the well as technology had caught up. Mr Boyd Barrett claimed oil companies were waiting for an opportune moment to extract the oil to get maximum profits.
But the Minister pointed to the fact that the company handed the licence back. “No one is sitting on the oil because no one has it.”