Own Our Oil is an Irish citizen-led movement aimed at managing Irish oil and gas natural resources for the good of Irish society.
We are calling on newly-appointed Minister Alex White to instigate an immediate review of Ireland's oil and gas strategy (which at present is merely relying on easily-avoidable taxes) to bring some real benefit to Ireland from the exploitation of Irish natural resources, which is set to accelerate in 2015.
People often ask what can be done done to address the mess that is the Irish oil and gas licensing debacle. More often than not, the initial suggestion is to sue the State to redress the balance for the people of Ireland and generations to come. Senior Counsel has advised us, as we outlined in our book, that there is an option to take on the State in a legal battle, but the odds and system are stacked against success whilst still in the process of gathering mass public demand. For more on the legal points, read here.
So, whilst weighing up the legal proceedings options, we are growing the grass-roots awareness to make this something that is demanded of all parties.
Our tactics with government are reflected in our following calls:
1. For Super Capital Gains Tax and Windfall Tax to address the most glaring financial shortcomings of the existing licences, under which production is due to start in 2015. However, not only was this opportunity to make amends for past mistakes wasted by the government, Budget 2015 actually saw the government further champion the disposal of Ireland's natural resources.
2. For Minister Alex White to set up a National Oil Company (which could take on the existing functions currently paid for by the State to the INPC and NORA) and move towards Production Sharing Agreements to guarantee supply of the natural resources to Ireland, rather than the internationally derided tax-only model currently in place. According to the World Bank, 75% of global crude oil production is through national oil companies. Ireland needs to learn from the long history of established hydrocarbon-producing countries to avoid another Irish debacle.
3. To bring about constitutional change in 2015 through a referendum which will once again make the natural resources of the country inalienable from the citizens of Ireland - which was originally secured in the 1922 Constitution, but changed in the 1937 amendments. A petition to this effect is currently being drafted - we will announce it soon.
We will be building on these initiatives and more to continue to work towards getting the best possible deal for Ireland from Irish natural resources. With the momentum of the people of Ireland this is very achievable, so we are relying on everyone to get informed and spread the word.
1. Super Capital Gains Tax of 66% on the sale of Irish oil and gas licences (and licence options or the sale of the companies holding those assets) and
2. Windfall Tax on revenues from those existing licences which are not subject to the new terms and conditions introduced after June 2014 independent review of their fitness for purpose.
Newly-appointed Minister White at the DCENR had called for discussion on Budget 2015, so we expected that he and his colleagues in Government will be receptive to our call... however, Minister Noonan and Co. did exactly the opposite and worsened the firesale of our natural assets...
The terms of Ireland's oil and gas licences are based solely on taxing operator-declared profits. Ireland's track record and global image in the corporation tax context does not offer much to inspire confiidence that Ireland will actual stand to gain much (if anything) from that approach. No licences have yet been issued under the terms introduced in June 2014, which have 5% royalties built in.
That is a real problem when it is Irish natural resources which are being exploited in return for nothing but a nominal tax take. It reflects the irresponsible stewardship of finite resources which we should be using to secure a better future for generations of Irish to come, not private shareholders of tradeable commodities.
The Challenge is to change Irish oil and gas licensing terms to benefit Ireland.
The question is not whether Ireland has viable deposits of oils and gas, it is why have we transferred ownership to private industry for so little?
Under existing licences, the Irish exchequer would receive little or no return from the exploitation of our natural resources. Those licences grant total legal ownership of our potential oil and gas fields to licence holders. The only people benefiting from whatever is produced under those licences will be company shareholders. A considerable percentage of Irish prospects have already been licensed/optioned - cherry-picked based on available seismic data.
"Alex White, the new Minister at the Department of Communications Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) takes over responsibility for Irish energy policy at a time when the strategic competence of the DCENR may be more important to our lives than the tactical competence of the Department of Finance.
Energy is the feedstock into the global financial system. Money itself is worthless paper, its value is in the real assets we believe it can translate into when we cash in the chips. If you accept that energy, its production, whether hydrocarbon or alternative and its distribution is the root system sustaining the perceived value of modern money, then why give that power away to private companies owned mostly by tax non-residents?
Minister Alex White ought to consider a wholesale strategic review of national policy preceded by a comprehensive energy audit of the economy. There already is a broad hint to do so contained in the recent Wood Mackenzie report that specifically recommended looking at switching to Production Sharing Contracts as a substitution for licences which pass over ownership in the vague hope of future tax revenues and the establishment of a national oil company which could partner with private companies while building its own competences, much like Statoil did for Norway.
We have received great ideas, insights, encouragement and support from all over Ireland and from further afield. For that we thank you all, but we must keep growing rapidly and spreading the word - it is getting through to people quickly and soon it will be getting through to our politicians. Everyone can help in this first and most vital task of adding to the numbers of people who want a better deal for Ireland from our oil and gas licensing terms.
We are pooling the volunteered insights and expertise to put them to their best use. You can be part of this from square one. Please make sure to register your interest and any insights on our "get invOOOlved" form on the top right, so that we can be sure not to leave you out as developments arise. Thank you.
Ireland's history is littered with examples of poor natural resource management. Our oil licensing mismanagment stretches from the 1950s to today. We now stand at a crossroads, with the opportunity to make amends.
However if we don't act urgently, we will look back and wonder why...
"There will be jobs, loads of jobs….” This is a myth. Oil prospecting companies are under no obligation to create Irish jobs under the licensing terms. Jobs will likely be filled by skilled workers from overseas while refining of oil will probably be carried out in the UK or Holland.
Thank you for your interest in this vitally important issue for Ireland.
The change that is needed will come from the grassroots up. We need local communities to get involved and get informed of the issues. Please contact us through the "get invOOOlved" form on the top right here to let us know what your ideas are.
Together we will make this happen.