Mismanaging offshore energy resources


Sir, – The mismanagement of our offshore oil and gas resources by successive Irish governments has been an unmitigated disaster. 

The situation has been exacerbated and raised to high farce by the Government’s decision to cease issuing new oil and gas licences, based apparently on political expediency to assuage the Green Party and the far left.

Currently, to supplement the vagaries of wind and solar power, we are spending up to €8 billion a year importing oil and gas from various volatile countries to ensure our energy needs. The indisputable fact is that we will continue to import fuel for decades, possibly forever, as we attempt to transition to a total reliance on alternative supplies.

The Norwegians, unlike us, while overachieving on their carbon emissions targets, have just issued a raft of new licences for oil exploration. Also, unlike us who are shackled with an unsustainable national debt of €240 billion, Norway has accumulated over a trillion dollars in its national treasury wealth fund, the biggest in the world. This was achieved by its intelligent and responsible management of its offshore resources.

By contrast, Irish government policies over the years were flawed, incoherent and liable to change on a regular basis.

We could have closely followed the Norwegian or Scottish models but failed to do so because of political wrangling and flawed ideology.

Fifty years on, the result is that we are left with the fast-dwindling Corrib field as our only native gas source. The Kinsale gas field will cease production this year.

It is well established that the Barryroe field close to the west Cork coast has 100,000,000 barrels of proven high-quality oil reserves in accessible waters. Financial and commercial difficulties in bringing this bonanza ashore haven’t been helped by government policy.

Even at this late stage, pragmatic patriotism allied to common sense and proper management of our offshore resources could impact positively on our unsustainable national debt, and would help to address the housing and health problems. Most importantly it would guarantee future energy supplies, pending full reliance on alternative energy sources at some undefined point in the future.

It should not be forgotten in all these considerations that Ireland’s contribution to total global warming is less than 0.1 per cent.

Given the negative legacy of Government policy over the years, exacerbated by its current decision, it is indeed remarkable that the usually alert media have failed to highlight and confront the negative impact on current policy on our future economic and societal wellbeing. Remarkably, the Irish Offshore Operators   Association has been silent on the subject.

Some legacy! – Yours, etc,