Drilling In Dalkey

I grew up and worked in this beautiful part of Ireland, so I was shocked when I came across this article by William Hederman. Given that the country is bankrupt and that it’s your average Joe on the street who is paying for the gambling risks of the political and banking elite in this country, it boggles my mind as to why the government sold out to the oil and gas supermajors so easily as they did and never thought for a second about ensuring some of the profits from drilling and exploration would remain in country.

We need every penny we can get now just to keep the economy from going bust. Instead of partly nationalising our oil industry (Norway, Brasil and Venezuela all benefit directly from doing exactly that), none of the monies will remain in Ireland, and our security of supply is non-existent, so the price at the pump remains at the mercy of the commodities market.

Not to mention the cost of an environmental disaster, which WILL happen, mark my words, irreparably damaging a unique and pristine piece of coastline. The “selling out” of Irish politicians demonstrates their utter contempt for the decent hardworking Irish men and women, and all for what? This kind of blind Garryowen/Hail mary style of politicking shows quite clearly how the current government is only focused on short-term popularity and polls rather than statesmen style nation building which our fore-fathers fought and died for.

I am ashamed that we, as a nation, elected this shower into office.

“We’re going to be rich” That was one response on Twitter last night to the news that Providence Resources has been granted a licence to drill for oil less than 10km from Dalkey Island.

While more and more people understand that it is private companies rather than Ireland that will get rich from oil and gas discoveries here, there is still a stunning level of ignorance around this topic. Much of this comes from politicians and journalists.

Providence is controlled by Tony O’Reilly Jnr whose family owned about half of our news media, so you might expect coverage of the Dalkey drill to be better informed.

When Providence applied for the foreshore licence last January, one newspaper quoted a Dún Laoghaire businessman saying the project “could be a good for morale and a boost for the business community”.

If Providence does find oil beside Dalkey, the only morale boost the business community will get is by admiring the rigs and tankers from the shore.

Last year Providence explained to me that they would load the oil into tankers at the rig and probably ship it directly to a refinery in Britain or Holland.

There would be no jobs or investment onshore. The workers on the rig will fly in from Scotland and elsewhere.

The fact that the oil is unlikely to be supplied to the Irish market nullifies the “security of supply” argument.

And of course, oil finds will not reduce the price of petrol here. So let’s desist with the Dallas analogies please, newsdesks.

The only guaranteed benefit to Ireland is the 25% corporation tax rate on profits. However – and this is where the industry’s lobbying of Ray Burke 25 years ago really paid off – when calculating profits from the sale of our oil, Providence can write off the costs of all exploration anywhere in Irish waters in the previous 25 years.

The likely result of such tax write-offs is illustrated by a private study conducted for Shell in 2003.

It projected that the Corrib project would pay just €340 million in tax over its lifetime, this from a field that is now valued at up to €13 billion. (At the time of the study, the field was worth considerably less, but I estimate that €340 represented around 7% of the revenue Shell would generate by selling Irish gas back to the Irish consumer).

Economically, our oil fields might as well be in the South Pacific, but environmentally, the Dalkey drill is frighteningly close to the shore – much closer than would be allowed in other European countries.

Providence’s own Oil Spill Contingency Plan shows that a spill could reach the shores of Dublin in one hour. This drilling is in shallow water, with fast currents, hundreds of marine and bird species, next to Dublin’s greatest amenity: Dublin Bay.

All being put at risk to show that Ireland is open for business, even though that business will hardly benefit us.

William Hederman is a freelance journalist. His website is IrishOilandGas

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