Energy - Policy Advisory: The Future of Oil and Gas in Ireland - Feb. 26, 2013

Ireland’s renewable energy supply has grown steadily in recent years but oil and gas continue to provide over 80% of Ireland’s energy supply. The country’s dependence on these fossil fuels will continue for several decades to come and policy decisions which are taken now will impact significantly on Ireland’s future economic competitiveness. Government policies should promote further development of the natural gas market in Ireland as well as investment in strategic gas infrastructure. Natural gas has many advantages – it emits less CO2 than either oil or coal; it is better suited as back-up for renewables; and the world’s natural gas resources are sufficient for another 250 years. Ireland’s energy import costs can potentially be reduced by over €300 million each year by switching from oil to natural gas in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Ireland’s natural gas supply needs to be better secured for the long term. Our dependence on a single stretch of pipeline in Scotland for over 90% of our gas supply is unacceptable. More needs to be done by Government to attract oil companies with the technical and financial capacity to explore and develop Ireland’s offshore hydrocarbon resources. A robust regulatory framework should be established for shale gas exploration and best practices adopted from other countries. Permitting and regulatory processes for oil and gas developments should be streamlined and a single authority should be responsible for construction planning consents. Government strategy on the future of the Whitegate Refinery should be formulated and published. Ireland’s oil storage and distribution infrastructure need to be enhanced to ensure supply in emergency situations.