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éirígí slams Lenihan’s Valentine’s Gift to Oil Companies

15/02/11

Brian LeesonCathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson has slammed yesterday’s decision by outgoing Twenty-Six County minister for natural resources Conor Lenihan to award onshore petroleum licenses for the resource rich areas of Lough Allen Basin and Clare Basin.

The Lough Allen Basin straddles several counties in the west and north-west, including Mayo, Donegal and Sligo, while the Clare Basin straddles four counties in the south west: Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry.

The license for Lough Allen covers almost 1,500 sq km and will be shared between Australian oil company Tamboran Resources and the Lough Allen Natural Gas Company/Finavera Gas, while the license for the Clare Basin, which covers an area of 495 sq km, has been awarded to Canadian company Enegi Oil.

Leeson said: “This Valentine’s Day gift to oil companies in the dying days of a discredited government indicates the contempt in which Fianna Fáil treats the population in the Twenty-Six Counties. For generations, we have been told that Ireland has no natural resources of its own. That is a lie – this is a resource rich country.

“Fianna Fáil and their second cousins in Fine Gael are intent on heaping the burden of privately accumulated banking debt upon the shoulders of working people. Both of these parties have told the electorate during the course of the general election campaign that there is no alternative but to bail out the banks and sign up to an austerity program with the IMF.

“Yet, according to figures from the Twenty-Six County Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources, there is hundreds of billions of euro worth of oil and gas, both offshore and onshore, that has been given away to the oil companies.”

Drawing parallels with the continuing conflict in north Mayo, Leeson added: “Both Lough Allen and the Clare Basin contain areas of scenic beauty and we have seen the disastrous approach adopted in Corrib, in which the Dublin government has given Shell free rein to trample over the rights of local communities. There has been no consultation with local communities about the potential damage that will be done in these areas.”

Leeson also called for the nationalisation of the Twenty-Six County state’s massive oil and gas reserves.

“Previous surveys carried out by the Finevara Gas company indicate that the entire Lough Allen basin contains 9.4 trillion cubic feet of gas, equivalent in pricing terms to 1.5 billion barrels of oil. This is over nine times the size of the Corrib gas field and could, therefore, be worth in the region of €100 billion [£84 billion].

“The Shell to Sea campaign in north Mayo, in which éirígí has played an active role, has saved this state €10 billion [£8.4 billion] by frustrating Shell’s plans to raid the Corrib field. Any incoming government must commit to scrapping the disastrous 1987 Ray Burke deal in which the state ceded control of its oil and gas. The massive resources in Lough Allen, the Clare Basin and elsewhere must be nationalised and the resources used for investment in jobs and public services.”

 

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