Eamon Ryan, minister for Natural Resources, when he supported the Rossport Five
Micheál Ó Seighin, who spent 94 days in prison for protesting against Shell, has pointed out the there are few gains for the people of Ireland from the new measures. New rules will have no effect on the potential profits from the Corrib scheme, which still operates under licencing agreements drawn up by disgraced former minister Ray Burke.
Speaking in Erris today , Michael Ó Seighin said that while there may eventually be some gains to the taxpayer from the changes, these are decades away, and the Minister's refusal to make the alterations to the licencing rules retro-active before January 2007 allows a two-tier situation, which can be easily manipulated by the industry.
Micheál Ó Seighin said it is clear to him that the new Natural Resources Minister has been mindful of the warning from the Irish Offshore Operators Association, issued to then Minister Frank Fahy in 2001, that they would have what they called "serious problems" with any changes to the existing licences.
Ó Seighin also pointed out that the new measures take no account of the fact that the people of Ireland have, through Government mismanagement, lost ownership of their own natural resources. There is nothing in the Minister's statement which deals with the issue of secitrity of supply, since the new owners of the oil and gas reserves (the big multi-nationals) can still sell it to the highest bidder on the international markets. "Ireland has no price advantage, no control of reserves in a world seemingly approaching peak oil, [and] no guarantee of supply superior to normal commercial contracts that apply to the market in general," he said.
He continued "The proposed changes are a damp squib with more spin than win. The changes to the non-fiscal terms are insignificant and will not put a cent in the national piggy bank. That the proposed gains are so far in the future probably means that the Minister can bask in an unearned dividend as will his successors over the next 4 or 5 Dáils. An altogether sad spectacle."
Micheál Ó Seighin will be speaking at a public meeting this week at the West Armagh Community Festival on Friday August 3rd. Details from firstname.lastname@example.org
Full statement from Micheál Ó Seighin in response to Minister Eamon Ryan's announcement regarding changes to the licencing arrangements for Oil and Gas (August 1st 2007):
Any effort to regain possession of our natural resources and their benefits
is to be welcomed. However the opportunity presented to the Minister by the
present political set up has been largely wasted. Some effort has been made
to accommodate the fact that different costs accrue to different projects
and should attract different tax treatment but that is the extent of the
Any gains to the taxpayer from the proposed changes are some decades away.
It is evident that this Minister, like those before him, has jumped to the
warning to Minister Fahy from the Offshore Operators Association that they
would have "serious problems" with any review during the lifetime of
existing licences (Irish Times 07 /05/'01) when the then Minister, in a
burst of euphoria suggested that he might indeed do that.
That there is to be no change at all to the existing conditions leaves a two tier situation,
easily manipulated by the industry. The fact that practically all licences
issued since 1992 are "frontier licences" means that much of the attractive
offshore territory is already alienated from the Irish taxpayer for decades.
Ireland, alone among sovereign states, declares it cannot change its
regulations with retrospective effect to accommodate changed circumstances.
The Minster is reported as being "optimistic" that greater exploration will
take place under these "new" terms. It is hard to see what justifies his
optimism. The changes from the 1992 terms seem to be minimal. We do not
know the basis for calculating "profits". Ireland does not "own" the
deposits. The developer can still sell where when and how it wishes - no
security of supply, that bogey man so beloved of oil company p.r.
Ireland has no price advantage, no control of reserves in a world seemingly
approaching "peak oil"., no guarantee of supply superior to normal
commercial contracts that apply to the market in general.
The proposed changes are a damp squib with more spin than win. The changes
to the non-fiscal terms are insignificant and will not put a cent in the
national piggy bank. That the proposed gains are so far in the future
probably means that the Minister can bask in an unearned dividend as will
his successors over the next 4 or 5 Dáils. An altogether sad spectacle.