Corrib gas 'giveaway'

 

A chara, – Daniel Sexton’s view that the current oil/gas exploration terms are “quite pragmatic” is untenable (December 16th). We are the only country in the world – with the possible exception of Cameroon – that has proven reserves of natural resources which we continue to give away for a pittance.

Corrib Gas, together with the estimated 10BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent) (estimates per Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamon Ryan’s own department) off our west coast cannot benefit the State under the Burke/Ahern terms because control and management of the reserves is ceded to the oil companies. It is the oil companies that own 100 per cent of the oil/gas on which they pay no royalties, no special taxes and, if they decide to sell us back what once belonged to us they do so at full market value.

It is every country’s sovereign right and duty to use whatever fiscal tools it has at its disposal for purposes of the common good. In that regard, it was, and remains, open to the Minister of Finance to at any time impose the fiscal regime of royalties. The current licensing terms and conditions are governed by fiscal policy; it is a matter of political will to introduce a robust royalty regime. The 10 BBOE reserves off the west coast, using a conservative value of $60 a barrel, are worth €420 BILLION – a royalty regime of 80 per cent, not uncommon in resource rich states, would yield €336 billion to service the current and future needs of this country’s people.

Is Mr Sexton and his ilk of the view that the oil companies’ shareholders are more deserving of this largesse that the citizens of the producing state?

I, along with so many others, have spent the first decade of the 21st century dealing with the proposed imposition of the Corrib Project which, at local level constitutes environmental injury and, at national level is an economic insult. We have been vindicated by An Bord Pleanála’s letter of November 2nd last which stated that the “safest pipeline in the world” is not that safe after all. We have been proven right in our informed concerns regarding health and safety; it is time we were listened to when we outline the national implications of what amounts to the continued giveaway of our last piece of family silver when it’s most needed.

The capture of our natural resources by Shell, Statoil, etc, was enabled by a crew of fools and/or knaves and would have become a fait accompli in 2003 but for the weltanschauung of those who opposed it. – Is mise,

MAURA HARRINGTON,

Spokesperson,

Shell to Sea,

Ballina,

Co Mayo.