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Irish Times: Exploration off Co Kerry

Published: Nov 10, 2006

Madam, – While many people may be aware of the financial and environmental scandal that is taking place off the coast of Mayo, they are probably unaware that Exxon Mobil have been given extensive exploration rights off the coast of Kerry, valued at up to 20 billion. Drilling has yet to start but seismic exploration has already pinpointed two large oil and gas prospects 200 miles southwest of the Kerry coast in the Dunquin Field.

Tony O’Reilly’s company, Providence Resources, which has a stake in the find, estimated that it could contain over 25 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and over four billion barrels of oil – a significant find even by international standards.

Last year, the Government gave Providence Resources and Sosina Exploration of Scotland the rights to explore and exploit the Dunquin Field. Now these two companies have allowed US corporate giant Exxon Mobil an 80 per cent share in the project, while they keep the remaining 20 per cent, with 7.25 per cent owned personally by Tony O’Reilly. It is therefore not surprising that the Independent group of newspapers, which are owned by O’Reilly, have been so hostile to the Shell to Sea campaign.

Instead of originally giving the exploration licence to Providence and Sosina, Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey could have dealt directly with Exxon Mobil, thus at least keeping a 20 per cent stake for the Irish people. It is more than a possibility that crude oil could be piped directly into tankers for export, thus making no contribution whatsoever to the Irish economy. No doubt Exxon Mobil are taking a keen interest in the Shell Consortium’s project in Mayo. If Shell succeed in refining the gas on land in Mayo, Exxon Mobil may well feel they have the green light to do the same in Kerry.

In terms of health and safety and the environment, Exxon Mobil’s record is anything but clean. For example in Alaska, Exxon Mobil still has not paid the $4.5 billion in punitive damages it owes, primarily to the local fishing community, for the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

Growing numbers of people in Mayo and Ireland generally are following the example of the Bolivian and Venezuela people and the Ogoni people in Nigeria by demanding democratic public ownership of the gas and oil industry and ensuring health and safety and environmental issues are taken seriously and that the profits of these resources are shared equally amongst the Irish people. – Yours, etc,

KIERAN McNULTY, Kerry Shell to Sea, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

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