Roll on the next general election, they say. Just before we get to that point, can the Fine Gael and Labour parties please pause for one moment? Neither party seems to be suggesting any renegotiation of the contracts to the companies licensed for the extraction of Ireland’s natural resources.
This is not a minor matter. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has said repeatedly that the combined value of oil and gas in the Rockall and Porcupine basins (excluding Corrib, incidentally) is the equivalent of 10 billion barrels of oil, or about €610bn today, if we take a barrel as worth $80. Our current take from this is zero. Would €61bn (a 10% take) coming into the exchequer in the next decade or two not make a dent in our current incredible deficit?
How about a 39% total take, which is the lowest I can find for any country/state in North America (€237bn). Or Norway’s 74% take (€451 bn).
These are the sums we are giving away to the oil and gas companies without so much as debate among the three main parties. Heaven help us.
Instead Fine Gael’s current policy document suggests borrowing €18bn from our own pension reserves fund and the European Investment Bank in order to fund its programmes. Wonderful.
It is not at all unusual for countries to change their charging structures. It is not rare to charge 50%. We used to do so.
And we still own these resources today; we are just in the process of giving them away for nothing. New policies, anyone?