A slick move by Hobbs

Now that the recession has slayed the Rip Off Republic (hasn't it?), Eddie Hobbs is turning his attention towards the eye-wateringly generous terms on offer for oil and gas companies to drill off the Irish coast.

Hobbs told me during the week that the campaign he is fronting, Own Our Oil – Ooo for short – plans to bring out a book highlighting the mess that is the Irish regime for hydrocarbon exploration.

The campaign sent a pre-budget submission to the Department of Finance last week, calling for a tightening of the terms governing the “flipping” of exploration licences.

Opponents of the group argue the entire system is generous for a reason: Exxon, for example, packed its bags after hitting squat in Dunquin this week.

Hobbs is helping draft a tome on the inadequacy of the regime, with contributions by "business people, scientists and two of the top barristers in the country". There is even, he says, a senior civil servant involved in the campaign, which is also fronted by Stephen Vard of the well-regarded design agency, the Vard Partnership.

Ooo is also planning an international conference next year, to which industry chiefs will be invited. Let’s hope the campaign’s name catches on. But everything can be tweaked. How about Billionaires Own Our Oil (Booo), or Who Owns Our Oil (Wooo)?