Consumer energy bills could increase by as much as 23% if Ireland is forced to continue importing its oil and gas requirements by self-imposing a ban on offshore drilling, an industry group has warned.
Upping the rhetoric in an escalating battle over the future of the oil and gas exploration sector, here, the Irish Offshore Operators' Association (IOOA) - which represents Irish-focused exploration companies - said that any disruption to Russia's gas supply into Europe could result in a 22.9% increase in Irish gas prices and a 15.5% rise in average electricity prices.
An opposition party bill targeting a ban on offshore drilling in Irish waters has progressed to select committee stage, where its sponsor People Before Profit claims to have enough TD support to progress the proposed legislation through the Dáil.
With oil and gas accounting for 78% of Ireland's energy requirements - and 100% of the country's oil imported, and 50% of its gas coming from the UK - the IOOA has said it remains "vital" that Ireland continues to be able to explore for indigenous oil and gas sources.
"Energy security is especially important in light of ongoing uncertainty about the UK’s departure from the EU, after which Ireland would potentially have no direct energy link to the EU," said IOOA chief executive Mandy Johnston.
The IOOA has previously estimated that the exploration sector - from just one single commercial discovery in Irish waters - has the potential to create 1,500 jobs per annum and deliver up to €11bn to the exchequer.
The organisation's latest figures are based on PwC estimates, which also put at nearly €900m the price to the State from a single-day's electricity black-out due to the cessation of energy supply to the country.
A recent public survey, conducted by the IOOA, found that 82% of people supported the need for Ireland to sustain energy prices and to develop its own indigenous energy resources.