SINN Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien TD has called for the implementation of a new licensing and taxation regime for oil and gas exploration off our coasts, saying access to a fair share of these revenues by the state could help economic recovery.
Speaking in support of a Sinn Féin motion on the issue in Leinster House, Deputy O’Brien said, “A report prepared for the Department of Energy estimates there could be 10 billion barrels of oil off Ireland’s coasts. We already know there are significant gas finds at the Corrib and Lough Allen fields. Yet as things stand, the benefits of exploiting these resources will go to multinational companies, not the Irish people.
“Internationally, oil and gas companies pay an average of 68% of the value of the oil and gas reserves they exploit in taxes and royalties. Yet under the licensing system brought in by disgraced former minister Ray Burke, companies undertaking exploration in Ireland pay no royalties to the state and only limited taxes. A small group of politicians have effectively given away our natural resources to multi-nationals.
“With rising international oil prices, the value of Ireland’s offshore oil and gas reserves is rapidly increasing.
“The Government, on behalf of citizens, should now move to acquire a majority state shareholding in our oil and gas. They should introduce an effective taxation and royalty regime that ensures that this state recoups at least 51 per cent of the value of all oil and gas finds off our shores.
“This will help ensure we have the financial resources to manage the national debt, and regain our economic sovereignty by ending the involvement of the EU, IMF and ECB in our affairs.
“These proposals make sense and prove that there is a real alternative out there that does not involve slashing the pay of the poorest people or cutting public services,” he said.