Sunday, June 21, 2009


More of it on Friday.

As the anti-Shell whackjobs continue to move the goalposts in their opposition to the Corrib gasfield the Irish Times published an opinion piece by an Andy Storey who lectures on 'political economy and international development' at University College Dublin.

It's a dreadful piece...
"An international study in 2002 found that the vast majority of multinational oil and gas companies pay other countries proportionately twice the amount that the Government is extracting from the Shell-led consortium that is exploiting the Corrib gas field...

"Under previous terms, the Irish State would have held a 50 per cent shareholding in any oil or gas discovery, and the extracting company would have had to pay royalties of at least 8 per cent as well as tax at 50 per cent. Those terms were progressively relaxed during the 1980s and 1990s (most notably when Ray Burke was minister for energy) to the extent that economist and journalist Colm Rapple now describes them as “decidedly soft by international standards”.

"The Government claims that the favourable terms are worth it to ensure energy security, but there is no necessity for Shell to sell the gas to Irish consumers...

"The Corrib gas deal could be renegotiated on the basis of breaches of environmental law, and abuses of human rights perpetrated by Shell and its partners. For example, in 2007 Shell engaged in unauthorised drilling on a protected habitat in north Mayo, breaching the European Communities (Natural Habitats) Regulations. Shell’s private security agents have been accused of assaulting Willie Corduff, a middle-aged local farmer, and of sinking the boat of a local fisherman. (The company has denied both accusations.)

"The Government should immediately suspend the Corrib project and it should only be allowed resume if local people do not have to live with a high-pressure pipeline carrying unrefined gas through their community and if the Irish people receive a substantially larger share of the revenues."

Kind of reminds me of this:

Mr. Burns and Fidel Castro - Click here for more amazing videos

It's very obvious what Storey is at here. Apart from obviously taking the lies of the likes of Willie Corduff at face value, he mentions Ray Burke to conjure up the image of state corruption and creates a straw man by saying that the government claimed "that the favourable terms are worth it to ensure energy security."

That is nonsense. A general history of oil and gas exploration off Ireland's coasts - a history of failure - can be found here. The terms were made more favourable to encourage the oil majors to explore our coastlines - pure and simple. During the 1980s it was a struggle to sell exploration licences at all and that, when we did, it felt like a bankrupt nation was winning the Lotto, at a time of massive cutbacks. It's obviously too much to expect people to remember that otherwise the guy wouldn't get away with rewriting history.

We may have had to cash in our chips then and, yes, twenty years later you'd wonder if it was worth it. But the gamble was taken by a private company. What if we had the flipside arrangement - that we sold licences for megabucks and royalties but the cost of every dud well drilled would be refunded in full? Just imagine what the reaction would have been in the '80s if hospitals and schools were being closed at an even greater rate than they already were because the state was, literally, sinking millions into the Atlantic? Can you begin to imagine what the usual suspects would have said back then? Multiply a sniggering Joe Duffy calling the M50 a waste of money by a thousand.

We might have a fairly trashed reputation at the moment, but what FDI could we ever hope to have if the State was seen to so blatantly tear up a contract. Basically the guy wants to engage in a bit of state-sponsored Putin-esque piracy. As entertaining as the Russians are when they do this sort of thing, we are in no position to do likewise. Thankfully, even the current pathetic administration isn't that stupid.
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