Donegal launch

New book by Donegal woman exposes story behind Ireland’s gas and oil

With a ‘potential of at least ten billion barrels of oil equivalent’* (oil or gas) estimated to exist offshore and onshore Ireland, questions about who owns and benefits from Ireland’s resources have arisen in recent years. Allegations of a ‘gas giveaway’ and the long-running Corrib gas conflict also prompted many people to inform themselves about Ireland’s gas and oil and how they are managed.

Dr Amanda Slevin, a Convoy woman, became interested in Irish gas and oil when the Rossport Five were jailed in 2005. Amanda’s academic and community activist background led her to wonder how and why the Corrib gas dispute emerged and what role the Irish state played in the evolution of the conflict. Informed by her PhD research, Amanda’s new book Gas, oil and the Irish state: Understanding the dynamics and conflicts of hydrocarbon management (Manchester University Press) gives answers to those questions and offers the first comprehensive account of the Irish state and how it manages its gas and oil.

Interpreting the Corrib gas conflict as a microcosm of the Irish state’s approach to gas and oil management, Amanda identifies environmental, health and safety concerns underpinning community resistance to the project and illustrates how the dispute raised concerns about the Irish state and how it functions.

Covering a period from 1957 to 2014, Gas, oil and the Irish state offers a detailed study of decision-making and policy formation around Irish gas and oil and explains how the state developed its approach and how it compares with other countries. By comparing international studies of fiscal systems for oil and gas production in 74 countries, Amanda found Ireland had the second lowest rate of return due to its 25% tax rate (1992 licensing terms). In stark contrast, over half of those countries demanded returns of over 70% with our neighbour Norway imposing a 78% tax rate and state participation in oil and gas activities.

After five years of academic research and interviews with politicians, civil servants, oil industry personnel, journalists, and activists supporting and opposing the Corrib gas project, Amanda has written a book that tells us how and why the Irish state adopted an approach that results in one of the lowest rates of financial returns to a state anywhere in the world. Several chapters examine how other countries manage their resources, notably Norway, and Amanda argues Ireland can learn from those countries and create a new model of resource management that maximises benefits for Irish citizens as owners of the gas and oil. Indeed, the book’s final chapter provides a blueprint for an alternative approach to gas and oil management, describing the state’s current model as damaging and unsustainable for communities, the environment, and Irish society.

To launch Gas, oil and the Irish state Amanda will be joined by His Excellency Roald Naess (Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland) and Fr Kevin O’Hara (founder of the Centre for Social and Corporate Responsibility, Nigeria) in a lively event that will includes lessons from Norway and Nigeria and a plenary session to encourage public debate about Irish gas and oil. Hosted by Councillor Micheal Cholm Mac Giolla Easbuig, Gas, oil and the Irish state will be launched in the Public Services Centre, Letterkenny on Thursday 4 August.

For further information, email amanda@irelandsgasandoil.com.

References
*Wood Mackenzie (2014, p. 19). ‘Review of Ireland’s oil and gas fiscal system’. Available at http://www.dccae.gov.ie/natural-resources/en-ie/Pages/Publication/Wood-M...