Source: Daily Mirror: By TOM PRENDEVILLE
IRELAND has EUR5.4trillion of oil lying off the west coast, it was revealed yesterday.
The oil reserve is enough to pay off our national debt of EUR60billion almost a hundred times over and banish our recession woes for decades to come.
But contracts with foreign companies are preventing us from selling it and transforming us into the Saudi Arabia of Europe.
The state’s lawyers will have to renegotiate with the multinational firms or they will pocket all the profits.
A report by Petroleum Affairs Division of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources stated: “The potential is of at least 10 billion barrels of oil lying off the west coast of Ireland.
“Well data indicate world-class source rocks. Volumetric assessment and expulsion modelling shows volumes of over 130 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of gas.”
Most of the Irish oil and gas deposits have been pinpointed along an underwater ridge known as the Atlantic Margin which runs parallel to our western shore.
The Dunquin gas field, which is 200km off the coast of Kerry, contains 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 4,130 million barrels of oil.
This alone would meet our gas needs – at present consumption levels – for the next 62 years.
The Dunquin field is currently being developed by Exxon Mobil, and several other partners. The Spanish Point field, located 200km off the coast of Clare, has known reserves of one and a quarter trillion cubic feet of gas and 206 million barrels of oil.
Further north lies Corrib, Co Mayo, which has an estimated value of anywhere between EUR6billion to EUR50billion.
The field – which has been the scene of much controversy – is being developed by Shell, Marathon and Statoil.
Inland lies the Lough Allen basin, which is valued at EUR75billion and contains 9.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
This vast field lies beneath Lough Allen and the foreshore area surrounding it and straddles counties Cavan, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.
Local farmers who own this land have the potential to become gas millionaires.
But multi-national oil companies are likely to get all the money unless the state re-negotiates exploration contracts.
The firms who are harvesting the Corrib gas fields will only have to pay 25 per cent on the profit and most of this can be written- off against exploration and operating costs.
Although the new rate of tax is 40 per cent this rate only applies to new exploration licenses and does not cover the existing oil and gas finds. Fine Gael spokesman for energy and natural resources Simon Coveney said: “We are desperately in need of money.
“If we get a big find we need to make sure we get a decent return, and when you go above a certain find, a different return.
“There needs to be an incentive there too, because it costs EUR70million any time they do an exploration drill.
“The state cannot afford to do that so we leave it to the private sector. It is a fine balance and we need to be careful we don’t drive the exploration companies away.”
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