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An Taisce slams decision to allow coastal oil drilling

August 2nd, 2017 2:22 PM

By Southern Star Team

An Taisce The body says the decision to allow the drilling to go-ahead is ‘ironic' given the fact that Minister Naughten is Minister for Climate Action.

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AN Taisce has criticised plans for drilling at an exploration well operated by Providence Resources, about 220kms off the south-west coast.

The Irish-based oil and gas exploration company, whose headline asset is the Barryroe oil and gasfield, made the move to drill after consent from the Minister of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten, was secured recently.

The work sees the Stena ‘IceMAX' deep-water drillship evaluate the Druid and Drombeg wells located in the southern porcupine basis. 

The Druid well has prospective resources of 3.18bn barrels of oil while the Drombeg well has prospective resources of 1.915bn barrels of oil.

The ‘IceMax' can drill down 10,000m at a rate of ,000 per day. It is expected that drilling at the sites will take between 45 and 60 days. Founded in 1997, Providence's roots go back to 1981 when its predecessor company, Atlantic Resources, was formed by a group of investors led by Sir Anthony O'Reilly whose family have long associations with Glandore. 

Of the four exploration/appraisal wells offshore Ireland since 2011, Providence has generated three of the drilling opportunities – Barryroe (2011), Dunquin (2013) and now Druid and Drombeg. 

The Barryroe project was found in 2012 to have more than 300m barrels of recoverable oil. 

However, the company is still working to land a development partner for the Barryroe oil and gasfield, describing it as a ‘top priority'. 

Delays on this front have pushed out plans for an appraisal well at Barryroe until 2018 at the earliest.

But An Taisce – the independent environmental body – has slammed the move, saying the oil, if recovered and burned, ‘will release some 1,500,000,000 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, an amount which far exceeds the 1bn tonnes (our remaining national quota) that Ireland can ever emit, in total from all sources, while still hoping to avoid a calamitous +2°C global temperature rise.'

The body says the decision to allow the drilling to go-ahead is ‘ironic' given the fact that Minister Naughten is Minister for Climate Action.

It added: ‘The drilling licence drives Ireland's low-carbon energy future off a cliff. Naughten went on to say that “energy and climate action are inextricably linked”. The irony here is deafening. The SEAI Strategy “envisions an Ireland where energy is sustainable, secure and clean”. Oil drilling is inherently unsustainable, insecure – and dirty.'

An Taisce claims that ‘little or no revenues and very few jobs' will ever accrue to the Irish State if this oil exploration goes ahead. 

‘Minister Naughten himself appears to be in a state of complete confusion on the issue,' a statement added. ‘The recent successful passage of the Anti-Fracking Bill through Dáil Eireann underlines the widespread opposition in Ireland to reckless fossil fuel extraction. To conduct this same extraction in a rich marine habitat off the Irish coastline shows a blatant disregard for ecology, as well as placing the entire western seaboard at risk.'

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