On June 18th, at a conference in Dublin Castle on â€śHarnessing Our Ocean Wealthâ€ť, the then Ministers Rabbitte and Oâ€™Dowd revealed the revised terms for oil and gas licensing in Ireland. The terms are based on recommendations made by consultants Wood Mackenzie, who were appointed by Minister Rabbitte to review only the existing fiscal terms of Irish oil and gas licences. Own Our Oil had inputs to that review process and the resultant report outlines which of our recommendations form the basis of this new direction in licence terms.
It was a positive development, but really only a step in the right direction for Ireland. The consultants themselves admitted to us that the remit of the review was so narrow that it did not give scope for the sort of change needed to really address the issue of Irish oil and gas licensing. Ownership of Irish resources is still granted to the licence holders, even though the consultantsâ€™ report recommends on p15 that Production Sharing be considered as part of a proper and full review of Irelandâ€™s licensing regime.
Shortly thereafter, a change of the guard in the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources saw TDs Alex White and Joe McHugh ushered in. Hopefully their fresh thinking will herald a new direction for the Petroleum Affairs Division, and with it the courage to do what recent predecessors failed to do.
We will be building on these milestones 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.
Ireland's oil and gas licensing terms 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.
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 current licencing terms, the Irish exchequer would receive little or no return from the exploitation of our natural resources. Irish licences grant total legal ownership of our potential oil and gas fields to licence holders. Should deposits be found in the future, the only people benefiting will be shareholders. A considerable percentage of Irish prospects have already been licensed/optioned - cherry-picked based on available seismic data. The next round of licensing has been announced.
Singer Songwriter Declan O'Rourke has written a collection of beautiful, powerful and thought-provoking songs which tell the story of Ireland's history during the Great Famine. Parallels between the hardship and inequities of that time and today's Ireland are one of the themes that we look at in our forthcoming book. Whilst researching for the album, Declan discovered Own Our Oil and very kindly offered us an opportunity to get the message across at his gigs in Ireland. One of our members gave a short talk before each Declan's gigs in the Republic to raise awareness and get to meet people with a view to setting up regional groups for forthcoming planned projects.
The support which was received was most heartening. People shared great ideas and insights and we will be building on this over the coming weeks and months.
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 jobsâ€¦.â€ť 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.