Commenting on today’s Government contingency plan for Brexit and the Irish border in a post Brexit landscape Mandy Johnston, CEO of the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association said “The withdrawal of the UK from the EU will increase Ireland’s vulnerability in terms of energy import dependency more emphasis and discussion on the longer term energy supply issues for Ireland needs to take place as a matter of urgency”.
Ireland will then have no physical energy connection with the EU’s energy network as our only gas interconnectors are to Scotland. An obvious route to energy security and independence is through the exploration and development of indigenous offshore natural resources – oil and especially gas. This would also reduce our carbon emissions and provide substantial economic benefits to Ireland. The challenge is how to continue to foster the momentum of offshore exploration. Encouragement and support for hydrocarbon exploration and development, through appropriate fiscal and regulatory framework, can lead to energy security, help build a low-carbon society through the increased use of indigenous gas, and exploit opportunities for attracting new foreign direct investment.
Ms Johnston added “In committing Ireland to offshore exploration last week the Government has recognised that using our own natural resources is not only good for energy security but also good for the environment and jobs. The facts speak for themselves: Russian Gas imported to Ireland creates 34-38% more greenhouse gas emissions than using Irish gas. There is no realistic scenario under which gas and oil will not be required to contribute a major part of Ireland’s energy supply in the short to medium term. However, clarity is required around the issue of access to the EU energy market; in terms of importing hydrocarbons. Greater certainty is needed around maintenance of free travel arrangements between UK and Ireland to facilitate the transfer of oil and gas exploration and production expertise from the North Sea, with no added administrative restrictions that would increase costs of exploration and production in Ireland.
Ireland will need to cultivate experienced, like-minded allies at EU Parliament, Council and Working Group levels to ensure that any future marine- and petroleum-related Directives and legislation are appropriate to the specific conditions of the Irish offshore, and to ensure that they support the timely and environmentally-responsible development of our much-needed natural resources.
The strong links with UK oil and gas agencies, developed over the past decades, need to be maintained in order to be able to draw on their legislative, operational and technical expertise to support our developing oil and gas industry.
IOOA have already made a submission to Government on this issue and will be pleased to partner with government in identifying and addressing the challenges resulting from the UK withdrawal from the EU, and work towards achieving energy security and independence for Ireland”.
Note to Editors. Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA) is the representative organisation for the Irish offshore oil and gas industry. Its members are companies licensed by the Government to explore for and produce oil and gas in Irish waters. The IOOA provides a forum in which its member companies work together to identify and tackle issues facing Ireland’s offshore industry. By cooperating and providing a common approach to issues such as safety, the environment, legislation and employment, the IOOA pro-actively assists in the development of oil and gas exploration and production in Ireland’s waters.