The campaign group Shell to Sea has criticised a decision by Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte to commission a review of Irish oil and gas fiscal terms from a British consultancy which has supplied information to oil and gas interests holding Irish licences.
Consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie, which is described as a "global leader in commercial intelligence for the energy, metals and mining industries", was appointed by Mr Rabbitte to undertake the review, following a public procurement process.
Mr Rabbitte said last week that the company would advise on the “fitness-for-purpose” of Ireland’s current oil and gas fiscal terms.
Shell to Sea, which yesterday said it had tendered for this consultancy on a “free of charge” basis, claimed that Wood Mackenzie had “extremely close connections to the oil and gas industry”, and had been writing reports for oil companies on the Corrib gas project since 1998, with a “commission” from Shell on the project in 2003.
However, Wood Mackenzie told The Irish Times it "did not conduct such a study exclusively for Shell", but had undertaken an analysis of the economics of the Corrib field, which it published regularly as part of its "independent upstream research service".
“This includes similar analysis of over 3,000 fields around the world and is provided to all Wood Mackenzie clients – including governments, financial institutions, oil and gas companies and utilities – on an annual subscription basis,” the company said.
“Indeed, we will be able to draw upon this deep research base in analysing this important issue for the Irish Government.”
The Department of Energy said yesterday it was “preparing a comment” on the issue, in association with Wood Mackenzie consultancy.
In appointing the consultancy, Mr Rabbitte outlined terms of reference which included asking the consultants to take account of comparative international experience.
Terence Conway of Shell to Sea in Mayo said “the results of the so-called review are a foregone conclusion”.