Irish Natural Resources

Ireland’s Oil and Gas Resources Stretch to Lough Allen


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 “astonishing25 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.




Shell Pipeline Now Exempt from Planning Permission

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.


Confrontation at site of Corrib pipeline
July 23, 2008, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Irish Mineral Resources, Irish Natural Resources | Tags: , ,

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.

The resident’s organisation Pobal Chill Chomian called on the Green minister’s for the Environment and communications John Gormley and Eamon Ryan to order the work to be halted until rigorous geologic survey and examination is completed. In a statement Shell E&P Ireland Limited said the protest had a minimal impact on the work schedule and the company had obtained all necessary permits and consents for the work.

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 (

“12 released after Corrib pipeline protest” – RTE News (