Committee fails to move Bill banning oil and gas exploration off the coast

Minister says legislation clashes with key aims of State’s energy policy – sustainability, security of supply and affordability

 A well production test at the Corrib field off the Mayo coast. The committee heard  the  field supplies 50%  of the country’s gas needs, but will  be exhausted in 2025

A well production test at the Corrib field off the Mayo coast. The committee heard the field supplies 50% of the country’s gas needs, but will be exhausted in 2025

 

Legislation to ban oil and gas exploration off the Republic’s coast stalled on Tuesday after an Oireachtas committee failed to vote in favour of moving it to the next stage.

The Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment was expected to back moving a Bill banning offshore exploration to the Oireachtas when it met on Tuesday. However, members split 50/50 on the proposal, meaning that the move failed and the committee will have to reconsider the issue in the new year.

Minister of State for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment Séan Canney and Senator Michael McDowell both tabled amendments opposing the Bill.

Mr Canney said the legislation clashed with the key aims of Government energy policy – sustainability, security of supply and affordability.

“The proposed ban on exploration would not reduce Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Mr McDowell described the legislation as “ill-conceived”, and said the Republic was likely to depend to some degree on fossil fuels for some time to come.

Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith proposed the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development (Amendment) (Climate Emergency Measures) Bill, 2018.

Various national and international bodies criticised the legislation during earlier committee debates.

Denis O’Sullivan, managing director of the State company Gas Networks Ireland, warned that if the Bill were passed Ireland would have to import 100 per cent of its gas supplies.

Mr O’Sullivan, whose company operates the country’s natural gas supply network, told the committee that the Corrib field off the Mayo coast supplied 50 per cent of the country’s needs, but that would be exhausted in 2025.

He warned that the Bill could “reduce our security of energy supply, and will not contribute in any meaningful way to emission reduction”.