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News release: Oil industry reaction to Committee’s report hysterical and misleading

News Release - Issued by Dublin Shell to Sea - Monday, May 14th, 2012

-- Oireachtas Committee agrees with campaigners’ critique of oil and gas licensing terms --

The report of the Oireachtas Committee reviewing Ireland’s oil and gas sector, released last week, echoes many of the central criticisms of the licensing regime made by campaigners in recent years. The review was carried out by the Joint Committee on Communications, Natural Resources and Agriculture.

Dublin Shell to Sea spokesperson Criostoir Mac Cuirc said: “Despite years of denials by Pat Rabitte and other government figures, this report by a cross-party committee has finally accepted many of the arguments that Shell to Sea and other campaigners have been making for years. For instance, the fact that Ireland’s fiscal terms for oil and gas exploration are extraordinarily generous to industry and need to be overhauled. We also welcome the calls for transparency in the planning process which we have demanded for more than a decade.”

He continued: “The hysterical reaction of the IOOA (Irish Offshore Operators’ Association) and their focus on a possible figure of 80% corporation tax ignores the fact that even if the proposals in the report were to be accepted in full, ownership of the gas and oil would still, as with Corrib, remain with the private companies. It could then be sold back to consumers in Ireland – or abroad – at full market price. There would be no state take, no royalties and no control over pricing. This is a far cry from the Norwegian regime. Moreover, it is impossible to tell from the report what size of fields, if any, the higher tax rates would apply to.”

“Despite what the report and the IOOA say, modern oil and gas exploration is far from a shot in the dark. Data from seismic, magnetic and gravitational surveys from land, ships, aircraft and satellites and from other wells in similar strata are integrated into sophisticated mathematical models to give a clearer picture than ever before of which areas are likely to hold oil and gas. Many such surveys are paid for by the taxpayer, in just one of many massive subsidies to the industry.”

“Companies can simply cherry-pick the choicest areas and then hold them for decades, until the price of energy has skyrocketed and technology has advanced, and they have used up the more accessible fields in the North Sea. In the long term the oil giants cannot lose. This is why their profits are so phenomenal, for instance Shell’s global profits of more than €40,000 per minute in 2011. of €2.5 million per hour in 2011.”

“In summary, although the good intentions of many of the participants in the process can be discerned in the report, it is predominantly imbued with the subservient attitude of the Irish civil service and all recent Irish governments to large corporations, which led to the Corrib Gas saga and to the banking collapse. Shell to Sea Dublin would welcome some of the proposed reforms but it remains to be seen whether even those will be implemented.”



* Criostoir Mac Cuirc


* Download the Joint Oireachtas Committee's report here:

* Shell to Sea is a national campaign with active groups based across Ireland. The Shell to Sea campaign has three main aims: 1) To renegotiate the terms of the Great Oil and Gas Giveaway, which sees Ireland’s 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent* off the West Coast go directly to the oil companies, with the Irish State retaining a 0% share, no energy security of supply and only 25% tax on profits against which all costs can be deducted. 2) That any exploitation of the Corrib gas field be done in a safe way that will not expose the local community in Erris to unnecessary health, safety or environmental risks. 3) To seek justice for the human rights abuses suffered by Shell to Sea campaigners due to their opposition to Shell’s proposed inland refinery.

[*This figure is based on the estimate, issued by the Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) in 2006, that the amount of gas and oil in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). The total volume of oil and gas which rightfully belongs to Ireland could be significantly higher. Also, as the global price of oil rises in the coming years, the value of these Irish natural resources will rise further.]