Oil and gas finds 'could deliver' €11bn tax bounty

Oil and gas finds 'could deliver' €11bn tax bounty

The oil and gas exploration industry could deliver tax revenues of around €11bn to the State and create more than 1,500 jobs per year, the representative body for the sector has claimed.

The suggestion coincided with opposition parties upping their efforts to progress legislation aimed at banning future drilling for oil and gas in Irish waters.

The Irish Offshore Operators' Association (IOOA) - based on research conducted for it by PwC - based the figures on the benefits of one oil and one gas find.

One commercial oil find would, it forecast, provide revenue of €8.5bn in corporation tax over the course of the project's lifespan; while a single gas find would bring in €2.4bn.

Ireland currently imports 100% of its oil and 31% of its gas, with the latter set to balloon to 100% if a successor to the Corrib field isn't found. Demand for electricity, here, is set to increase by as much as 57% in the next 10 years.

"While Ireland and the world are on a path to decarbonisation, the reality is that our dependence on hydrocarbons will be here for a number of years to come as we make the transition," said PwC's Ger O'Mahoney.

"From a strategic perspective, indigenous oil and gas supplies would improve Ireland's energy security, while the economic value of the industry is clear. We need to be less dependent on energy imports, which means developing our own sources," he said.

"The IOOA also recognises that the transition to low-carbon needs to happen and is the right thing to do. Within that context we need to look at issues such as ensuring a safe and secure energy supply, supporting economic growth and delivering essential services," IOOA chairman Pat Shannon said.

Meanwhile, People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith (pictured below) has appealed to Fine Gael and the chair of the communications and climate committee to end the "procedural wrangle" that is currently holding up the progress of the party's Climate Emergency Measures Bill.

Oil and gas finds 'could deliver' €11bn tax bounty

The climate change committee voted down a draft motion on the bill before Christmas and will now consider a revised version of the report at its next scheduled meeting on February 19.

"If the Government want to avoid accusations of hypocrisy over climate they can’t support carbon taxes on one hand and keep supporting fossil fuel exploration and licencing oil and gas companies,” Ms Smith said.

"If Ireland wants to move from laggards to climate leaders, the Government should pass my bill and set an example for the rest of the world to follow in banning the issuing of further licences for fossil fuel extraction."

Ms Smith welcomed proposals made in the Icelandic parliament for a similar bill to what People Before Profit is recommending here.

"If we passed this bill into law it will inspire similar moves in other countries. Iceland shows this is the case. We can become the fifth nation to ban fossil fuel exploration but more importantly, we can aid similar bans in many other countries," she said.

Chinese-owned company Nexen Petroleum is due to kick off a highly anticipated spate of Irish-based drilling activity later this year.

Europa Oil and Gas chief Hugh Mackay said a positive find by Nexen would be "utterly transformative" for Ireland and could create "a new Brent province" off the west coast of Ireland.

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