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Whose purpose is served by our current licensing and revenue terms – McDonald

20 April, 2011 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald has questioned Minister Pat Rabbitte’s assertion that the licensing and revenue terms for oil and gas companies, introduced by Fianna Fáil are “fit for purpose.”

Speaking in the Dáil this evening Deputy McDonald said “the question is whose purpose.”

She said:

“I note that Minister Rabbitte was happy to quote from the 2007 Departmental review as justification for changing his mind and abandoning Labour policy, he went on to dismiss the same Department’s estimates of the extent of the value of the State’s natural resources.

“Are we to assume that the Minister’s Department is correct when it states that we should continue to provide arguably the most generous terms in the world to multinational oil and gas companies, but wrong on the value of reserves that it believes lie off Ireland’s coastline?

“In his speech last night the Minister also outlined the reasons the various changes that had been made to the terms and conditions governing oil and gas exploration over the years. As with Labour’s Saul like conversion to the benefits of selling off a huge chunk of state assets, the Minister appears to have immediately realised on arriving in his new office that all of the changes made to the benefit of the oil and gas companies were all made correctly.

“Of course that is not what Labour said when they were in opposition. Nor is it in line with Labour’s manifesto commitment to review all of the terms and conditions governing the exploration sector.

“The Minister has claimed that the Corrib field will strengthen this state’s energy security and move us away from a situation where 95% of the natural gas used here has to be imported. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that this will be the case as there is no onus on the consortium to supply gas here. They could if they wish send the gas out of the country through the inter-connector pipelines to Scotland.

“But even if the Corrib gas is pumped into the Irish grid the companies will charge the going market rate which means that consumers here will still be paying the same as they would were the gas to come from another jurisdiction.

“Under Article 10 of the constitution all natural resources, including all forms of potential energy, belong to the State. Despite this the people of this country have got relatively little return from the minerals or the gas reserves that have been discovered to date. We need to keep the licensing regime under review; we need to do an assessment of the returns for the Irish people; and we need to learn from the experience of other countries that have been far more successful in ensuring a return for their own people from oil and gas discoveries.” ENDS

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