Donal Kissane of industry cluster group Energy Cork told delegates at this week’s Energy Ireland annual conference in Dublin that Cork Harbour is the “optimum location” for logistics support for anticipated work set to result from this year’s Atlantic Margin licensing round.
Mr Kissane said Cork can be a focal point for Ireland’s energy sector and such an initiative need not be restricted to oil and gas, but could also work for the offshore wind generation sector, which has similar support requirements, and the solar energy sector.
Local area plans have already recognised such a vision for Cork Harbour, with 388 hectares already having been zoned for energy-related activities.
Mr Kissane said Energy Ireland and the Port of Cork adhere to the view that Cork could be the new Aberdeen,referring to the Scottish city’s role in North Sea production.
The city has the largest heliport in the world and its port acts as a key service ship harbour for offshore oil rig servicing.
The Scottish city has been referred to as the oil capital of Europe, with the number of jobs created in its vicinity, by the energy sector, estimated at half a million.
Cork is the second largest natural harbour in the world, with 30% of Ireland’s primary energy supply located at the harbour and some of the country’s largest energy using firms located in the area.
“All the major players are Energy Cork members; our objective is to promote and develop the Cork Harbour Energy Hub,” Mr Kissane said, also noting that Cork could be Ireland’s hub for electric vehicle provision.
Also addressing the Energy Ireland conference, Dave Austin, lead executive at Phillips 66 Ireland, which owns the Whitegate Oil Refinery said it would be a negative move to close down existing refineries, but added it would be challenging to see any new refineries being established in Europe in the current market climate.
Phillips last year abandoned plans to sell Whitegate, but eventually offloaded its Whiddy Oil Terminal at Bantry to US start-up Zenith Energy.
Ciaran O’hObain, principal officer at the Department of Natural Resources’ petroleum affairs division, said the true level of exploration interest in the Irish offshore will not be known until the Government’s Atlantic margin licensing round closes in September, but he said the country has a lot of building blocks in place to support a thriving exploration industry.