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Press Release: Ballyroe oil find exposes absurdity of Rabbitte's oil & gas licensing

-- Discovery will not guarantee any jobs, security of supply or other benefits for Ireland --

The discovery of oil at the Ballyroe field off Co Cork by Providence Resources exposes the absurdity of Pat Rabbitte's rush to hand out oil and gas exploration licenses last October, Shell to Sea has claimed. On October 17th 2011, despite widespread calls for a moratorium, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte issued exploration licences for 250,000sq km of the Atlantic shelf. [1][2]

Rabbitte proceeded to issue licences just as Providence was embarking on what it called "the largest co-ordinated multi-basin drilling programme carried out offshore Ireland" and also before an Oireachtas committee has reported back on its review of Ireland's oil and gas terms.[3]

At the time, a former Statoil board member, Stein Bredal, questioned Pat Rabbitte's haste in issuing the licenses: “Energy prices are only going up, so why is your Minister in such a hurry, when he should be guaranteeing jobs and a greater return to the Irish taxpayer if there is a find?”[4]

Commenting on the Ballyroe oil find, Shell to Sea spokesperson Maura Harrington said: "In 1987, Labour Party leader Dick Spring called the oil and gas terms that Ray Burke introduced 'economic treason'. That was with a State tax-take of 50% and the barrel of oil at around $20. Now a barrel of oil is over $120 and the State tax-take will be considerably less than 25% and our country is bankrupt. That this government continues the giveaway our oil and gas remains treasonable"

Speaking to Forbes Magazine in 1983, Tony O’Reilly Snr, father of current Providence Resources CEO Tony O’Reilly Jnr, outlined how he acquired the exploration rights for the six blocks that his geologist wanted: “Since I own 35 per cent of the newspapers in Ireland I have close contact with the politicians. I got the [exploration] blocks he [his geologist] wanted.” [5]

Maura Harrington continued: “Providence is unlikely to land the oil from Barryroe in Ireland, nor to use any Irish-based staff, infrastructure or services. This makes a mockery of the Government’s policy of maintaining such a low tax take in order to create jobs, ‘investment’ and ‘security of supply’.


For more information contact:        
Maura Harrington:       
Terence Conway:!/ShellToSea


[1] Protecting our resources – Irish Times Editorial

[2] SIPTU calls for moratorium on oil and gas licenses until Oireachtas review is completed,14688,en.html

[3] Providence to start 12-well programme off Irish coast in 2011 – Irish Independent

[4] Rabbitte defends oil exploration deal terms – Irish Times

[5]A Knight in Oily Armour: Tony O’Reilly and Exxon Mobil - Indymedia

The Shell to Sea Campaign has three main aims:
1) 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 and environmental risks.

2) 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.

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 recoverable oil and gas in the Rockall and Porcupine basins, off Ireland’s west coast, is 10 BBOE (billion barrels of oil equivalent). Based on the average price of a barrel of oil for 2010 of $79, this works out at $790 billion, or €580 billion. This does not take account of further oil and gas reserves off Ireland’s south & east coasts or inland. 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.