Minister to review oil licensing terms


MINISTER FOR Energy Pat Rabbitte has accepted a Fianna Fáil proposal to review the State’s oil and gas licensing terms at Oireachtas committee level.

Mr Rabbitte said he was happy to “tease the issue out” when Oireachtas committees are set up, but warned that “you’ll still have different opinions”.

The proposal was made by Fianna Fáil energy spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív during a recent unsuccessful bid by Sinn Féin to review the licensing terms, and to set up a State oil, gas and mineral exploration company.

Mr Ó Cuív said he believed an Oireachtas committee review of licensing would “put the issue to bed once and for all” and could be retrospective.

“It wouldn’t cause me any embarrassment if it came out that Fianna Fáil had undersold the State,” Mr Ó Cuív said. “I’d be keen on taking the views of the Norwegian government, Statoil and other Atlantic states, in hearings which have a specific time frame.”

Mr Ó Cuív has said he was “stunned” at Mr Rabbitte’s sharp criticism of the Sinn Féin motion during the Dáil energy resources debate on April 19th.

Mr Rabbitte was a member of a resources protection campaign in the 1970s, and the Labour Party’s general election manifesto supported extension of royalty terms to the Corrib gas field as part of a “wider review” of terms.

However, Mr Rabbitte has said that “the hopes and aspirations of the early 1970s haven’t been realised [and] we haven’t had the strikes that were prophesied then”.

In a criticism of the Shell to Sea campaign, he added: “Where citizens have genuine concerns about safety, they have to be met. Unfortunately, I think the original concerns about safety and Shell to Sea have turned out to be Shell out of Ireland for some of the protesters.”