The Port of Cork is facing calls to cut ties with a US firm which could see fracked gas being imported through, and stored in, Cork Harbour.
It follows a near-unanimous vote by city councillors this week in support of a Green Party motion which called on councillors to write to the Port of Cork and the Minister for Communications, Climate Change and the Environment, Richard Bruton, to formally request that they cease any work to develop facilities in the harbour to “enable the importation of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) extracted using hydraulic fracturing". Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy abstained on the vote.
In 2017, the port signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US company Next Decade and its partners to explore a joint development opportunity for a new Floating Storage Regasification Unit (FSRU) and associated LNG import terminal infrastructure in Ireland.
The LNG would be sourced from Next Decade’s proposed Rio Grande LNG export facility at the Port of Brownsville in South Texas. The company uses fracking in some of its explorations.
The Port of Cork has previously stressed that the signing of an MoU is a very early stage in a long consultative process.
Green Cllr Oliver Moran, the party’s candidate in the Cork North Central by-election, said locating a storage terminal in Cork would be a test of the government’s credibility in meeting the challenges of the global climate and biodiversity crisis.
“The Port of Cork is a state company with just two shareholders, the Minister for Transport and the Minister for Finance,” he said.
“I want those two shareholders to now make clear that they don't want the Port of Cork associated with it either.
Fracking, which involves the injection of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into underground rocks to widen existing fissures for the extraction of oil or gas, was banned in Ireland in 2017 amid concerns about its environmental impact.
The practice has been linked to earthquakes, groundwater contamination, and negative health effects.