Filed under: Energy, Irish Mineral Resources, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: Corrib, Donegal, Dunquin, Exxon-Mobil, Kerry, Lough Allen, River Shannon, Rockall, Shell Oil
According to the Petroleum Affairs Division, (PAD), current estimates indicate at least 10 billion barrels of oil lie off the west coast Ireland. The Irish Independent stated that energy exports have the potential to transform Ireland into a “new Middle East.”
“A recent regional assessment estimated resources in the Porcupine and Rockall Basins at ten billion barrels of oil. Estimates are based on comparisons with the geology of other regions with proven success,” explained Helen Chandler, spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.
In a recent publication by the Petroleum Affairs Division, (PAD), entitled Atlantic Ireland, it stated: “The potential shows volumes of over 130 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of gas.”
Most of these deposits have been pinpointed along anunderwater ridge known as the Atlantic Margin which runs parallel to the west coast of Ireland in a more or less straight line before arcing off towards Scotland and the North Sea onwards towards Scandinavia.
The Dunquin gas field which is 200km off the coast of Kerry contains an “astonishing” 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 4,130 million barrels of oil. According to the Irish Independent this alone would meet Ireland’s gas needs – at present consumption levels – for the next 62 years.
The Dunquin field is being principally developed by Exxon Mobil: “With Dunquin we are planning to drill wells next year and 2009. It is deep water, and as a rule of thumb, it takes about five years to get a field into production, so we are looking at 2013 to 2015.
Further up the coast is the Spanish Point field, which is 200km off the coast of Clare. The field has known reserves of one and a quarter trillion cubic feet of gas and 206 million barrels of oil, and is valued at €19.6bn. The drilling of wells will start next year and field production field will start in 2011.
The Corrib field, in County Mayo, which has an estimated value of “anywhere” between €8bn to €87bn. The field is being developed by Shell, Marathon and Statoil, the Norwegian state oil corporation.
Inland lies the Lough Allen Basin – an area which was largely famous as a bog. But now the area has been “notionally” valued at €74.4 billion and contains 9.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil.
This vast field lies beneath Lough Allen and includes Cavan, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.
“The answer to a large part of our security of supply could be in the North West of Ireland. It has the potential to turn from a gas importer to a gas exporter,” explains Tom Davitt, CEO of Finavera, who are planning to develop the field in the near future.
At present, nine new Frontier Exploration Licences and five Petroleum Prospecting Licences are outstanding for areas off the Donegal coast.
Filed under: Energy, Irish Mineral Resources, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: Broadhaven Bay, Corrib, Mayo, Shell
The largest pipelaying vessel in the world, the 1,300 ft Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, in Co. Mayo. Shell has employed a “small army” of private security men, backed up by gardai, to protect the landfall area. The Dutch-owned Solitaire can lay between four and seven km of pipeline a day and normally carries a crew of around 400. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib Gas field. Shell’s External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project: “You could describe it as the Corrib armada.” Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.
Timeline of Events:
Thursday, July 24th: Over 40 gardaí, stationed in the Shell compound, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad beach so that Shell could erect 10ft high fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Gardai ordered the crowd to leave the area and then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. Members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when they tore down the cliff-face to create a causeway down to the beach. According to protestors, it was a joint Garda & Shell operation.
Gardai and Shell security formed a cordon around where they were planning to put up the fencing, and then Gardai came in and forcibly removed the protestors who were inside the security bubble. There was little that the group of around 30 protestors could do but watch as the fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the public beach in two, which of course means that users do not have the right of way through the beach.
The legality of the consents are an issue of major concern as it is unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. Green Party Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. A spokeswoman said that all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the Department’s website.
Shell is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. The further destruction of this Special Area of Conservation has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
16th August 2008: The Rossport Solidarity Camp was set up again for the purposes of reorganising Shell to Sea resistance to Shell’s latest plans to construct its offshore section of the pipeline from Glengad out to the Corrib Gas Field. Protests are ongoing, involving both Shell to Sea activists and members of the local community.
29th August: An Irish naval vessel was deployed as protests mounted over the controversial Shell gas pipeline. The Irish Defence Forces said the LE Orla, with 39 crew onboard, was requested by gardaí as back-up at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo.
A spokesman for the naval service said he could not recall any of its ships ever being directly involved in an operation against civil demonstrations.
2nd September: Another Irish Naval Service vessel arrived off the Mayo Coast. The Irish Naval Service is composed of seven vessels. The priority which is being given to this operation is an indication its political character.
Tuesday September 9th: The Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, as the accompanying security operation intensified. Extra Gardaí; including special public order units have arrived. Local schoolteacher Maura Harrington commences hunger strike at the gates of the compound. Her demand is that the Solitaire leave the bay or else her hunger strike will continue.
Wednesday September 10th: Pipelaying work is temporarily suspended. According to local newspaper, The Mayo Echo, unnamed Irish Naval sources have stated their concern that a British nuclear submarine is positioned 11 miles off the Mayo coast and is providing direct assistance to the Irish authorities in monitoring communications. So far the Irish Government has refused either to confirm or deny this report. A Royal Navy spokesman, while refusing to confirm or deny the report, stated that if there is a submarine in Irish waters “then it wouldn’t be there without the permission of the Irish authorities.”
Thursday September 18th: Shell announces that the Solitaire pipe laying ship is to depart from Irish territorial waters and go to Scotland for repair and assessment.
Friday September 19th: Maura Harrington ends her hunger strike.
Filed under: Energy, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: Department of Communications, Gas, Ireland, Irish Gas, Irish Oil, Marine and Natural Resources, Oil, Porcupine Bank, Rockall, Rockall Bank
Department of Marine, Communications, and Natural Resourcers extends area ‘on offer’ for oil and gas exploration licenses under the 2009 Rockall Licensing Round
On 8th July, 2008 the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Mr. Seán Power T.D. today announced that he has decided to extend the area to be opened for licensing in the 2009 Rockall Licensing Round to include the north-western margin of the Rockall Basin. This will bring the total acreage on offer under the round to 117,100 square kilometres.
In announcing the expanded area, the Minister said that “this is the first time since 1997, that such a major part of the Rockall Basin has been the subject of a licensing round. Recent technical studies have indicated a significant petroleum potential within the Rockall Basin. It is timely, therefore, that the oil and gas exploration industry be offered an opportunity to commit to invest in new exploration programmes in the basin.”
The Minister said that the Department was building on the success of the two most recent licensing rounds (Porcupine 2008 and Slyne\Erris\Donegal 2006) and that the pace of drilling activity was increasing off Ireland. As a result, he was ‘confident’ that the Rockall Round would attract significant interest from exploration companies.
Applications for Frontier Exploration Licences covering blocks in the round will be invited in late 2008 with a closing date for applications in 2009.
Filed under: Irish Natural Resources | Tags: Broadhaven Bay, Corrib, Glengad Beach, Globalisation, Mutlinational Corporations, Shell Oil
On Thursday, July 24th at approximately 8:00am over 40 Gardaí, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad Beach to enable Shell contractors to erect 10ft high security fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Superintendent John Gilligan ordered local people to leave the area. Gardaí then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. The members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when the cliff-face was torn down to create a causeway down to the beach. It appears that the entire operation was a joint Garda and Shell security operation.
The fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the beach in two, which of course means that beach goers do not have the right of way through the beach. Shell to Sea campaigner Terence Conway stated “The gardaí have always spoken about keeping the roads open for the public and Shell alike however today they are willing to close off a public beach so that Shell can fence it off”. The legality of the consents given are an issue of major concern as it is now unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. While Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. This was an “oversight”, the spokeswoman said, and all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the website from today.
Shell Oil is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. Terence Conway continued ”The fact is that this first onshore section is the most dangerous part of the whole project as the pressure could be as high as 345bar and still it will not have gone through any planning if it is constructed”.
The further destruction of the Special Conservation Area has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The Corrib protest has now moved to sea as North Mayo fishermen called on the Government to protect their rights to continue using the traditional fishing grounds.
A flotilla of over 30 boats, and up to 100 fishermen, appeared on the edge of Broadhaven Bay. Sailing from Killala, Belderrig, Blacksod, Porturlin, Frenchport and Rinroe, they tied up to applause from the large quayside crowd of supporters. The protest was organised by the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association (EIFA), and was a symbolic show of solidarity ahead of the arrival of the world’s largest sub-sea pipe-laying boat, the Solitaire (1,300ft long) – now anchored off Killybegs. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib field.
The protest was also convened to highlight the stand-off between Shell and the fishermen’s organisation over the location of the refinery’s ouflow pipe in a rich fishery. Members of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association say they are still considering staging a sea blockade if Shell goes ahead with the pipeline which will have an outfall point outside the bay. Broadhaven Bay is a Special Area of Conservation, and the EIFA has expressed concerns to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs over possible damage to fish stocks.
The Department of the Environment has now granted permission to the Corrib gas developers to construct a key section of onshore pipeline without approval from An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Infrastructure Act. Shell EP Ireland and its consultants RPS had said earlier this summer that the entire onshore section would be submitted to An Bord Pleanála under the new fast-tracking legislation, apart from two estuary crossings which are regarded as “marine” and come under the Foreshore Act.
The Department of the Environment has therefore stated that a high-pressure section at the Glengad landfall which runs under Dooncarton mountain, location of a 2003 landslide, and across a public beach used by locals and tourists is “exempted” from planning permission under the Planning and Development Act 2000. Shell Oil intends to start laying the offshore section of the pipeline very soon. Almost inevitably, this will lead to a confrontation with the inshore fishermen.
Filed under: Energy, Irish Natural Resources, Irish State Corporations | Tags: CER, Commission for Energy Regulation, Endesa, ESB, Power Stations, Privitisation
The Spanish energy firm Endesa has stated that it has made a formal bid for €450m to buy four power plants from the ESB.
The ESB is being forced to sell the plants under a plan drawn up by the energy regulator, the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), to reduce and downsize the publicly – owned energy companies share of the Irish Energy Market.
Endesa is a subsidiary of Enel and is bidding against other parties, including Viridian Group, Bord Gais, International Power and Star Capital Partners, all of whom have submitted bids for the power stations.
It is also thought that Scottish & Southern Energy, Britain’s second-biggest generator, and E.ON, Germany’s biggest utility, may also bid for the plants.
A year ago, the ESB announced its intention to bow to the CER request to reduce its generating capacity by 1,300MW and said it would be selling the peaking plants at Great Island in Wexford and Marina Steam Turbine in Cork together with the Poolbeg and Tarbert power plants.
The programme of asset sales will bring the ESB’s share of the newly expanded single energy market north and south of the border to about 27%, while its share of the Irish power generation market is about 44%.
Following the divestment of assets, the ESB said it will maintain its market share of power generation at well below 40% to facilitate continuing competition in the energy market, continuing competition, that is., from the large multinational energy concerns who are to be handed more than half of the Irish Energy market in one stroke.
In return for agreeing to the asset sales, the ESB was granted approval by the CER to construct a new 430MW power station at Aghada, Co Cork.
Endesa made its offer on June 11th 2008, and, along with the other bidders, will hear the outcome of the process in late July 2008. Endesa’s offer of €450 million is in line with a valuation of ESB assets by an independent consultant.
Under a strategy outlined recently by chief executive Padraig McManus, the ESB is to make a major commitment to renewable energy and to halving its carbon emissions within 12 years, with the aim of achieving carbon net-zero by 2035. It is extremely doubtful that the ESB will even exist by that date.
“About half of the expected €22bn investment package is geared towards investments in our renewable future,” the company said. Of this, €4bn will be directly invested in renewable energy projects and €6.5bn will be spent facilitating renewables, including smart metering and smart networks.
”The plan is that by 2020 the ESB will be delivering one-third of its electricity from renewable generation. This will include over 1,400MW of wind generation.”
It is extremely doubtful that this target will be achieved, given the established record of the Irish Government in developing Ireland’s potentially huge wind – power capacity. ESB statements about transferring power capacity to renewable and reducing Carbon Emissions is simply more Government greenwash which is designed as a smokescreen for a massive transfer of existing power generating capacity which at present lies in the hands of the public to multinational corporations.
Filed under: Irish Mineral Resources, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: Corrib, Glengad Beach, Shell Oil
Protests have occured at Glengad for the second day at the Corrib Gas Pipe line in Co Mayo local people have clashed with security staff employed by contractors working on the project. The protest took place at Glengad Beach where the pipeline from the off shore gas field is to be brought ashore. There were a series of scuffles as local residents tried to stop construction work at the site.
Shell went on to state that the site excavation works at Glengad are being witnessed by staff from the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Gardaí, who were at the scene, made no arrests. Yesterday 12 people were arrested and subsequently released, a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. The 12, who are members of a newly formed community group, were taking part in a protest at Glengad Beach where the pipeline is due to brought ashore. The group is opposing the location of the €300m gas refinery 9km inland at Bellanboy.
The group says it wants the gas refinery relocated to an area on the north coast of Mayo where they say will present less of a health and safety hazard to the local community and the environment.
“Confrontation at site of Corrib pipeline” – RTE News (Wednesday, 23 July 2008):
“12 released after Corrib pipeline protest” – RTE News (Tuesday, 22 July 2008):
Filed under: Irish Fisheries, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: Emer Jane, Kilmore Quay, LE Emer, Wexford
Yesterday, on Tuesday, 22 July 2008, a Kilmore Quay fishing vessel and a Naval service Ship were engaged in a confrontation about off the Co Wexford port this afternoon. The Naval Service stated that the vessel was detained for fishing for scallops without a licence.
The owners of the fishing boat said they had been catching scallops as a by-catch of other fishing and understood they had been allowed to do that and had never been challenged about it before.
Two Naval officers from the LÉ Emer boarded the fishing vessel, the Emer Jane, earlier this afternoon and ordered it to proceed to Dunmore East in Co Waterford.
The skipper of the vessel reportedly refused and said he would go to his home port of Kilmore Quay and that the Navy could arrest him there if they wanted to.
The owners of the fishing vessel have claimed that the LÉ Emer threatened to open fire on them.
But a spokesman for the Navy said it ‘strongly denied even the suggestion that the Navy threatened to open fire’.
The fishing vessel is continuing to sail towards Kilmore Quay, but is not being followed by the Navy, which has also taken its two officers off the boat.
A Navy spokesman said they had gathered information on the alleged offence and would be forwarding this to the gardaí and the fisheries authorities to have the incident followed up.