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Corrib Project To Become An Election Issue in Mayo?

Read more about: Energy, Irish Election 2007, Mayo, Polls     Print This Post

As reported in today’s Irish Independent, an opinion poll by conducted by Public Opinion Ltd. for The Mayo Advertiser has found that 45% of voters in Mayo support the Shell To Sea campaign to have the terminal moved offshore, with 15% supporting Shell and 40% having no opinion. The opinion poll reflects the recent TNS/MRBI poll carried out for Nuacht RTÉ which showed just 23% support for Shell’s onshore option for the gas refinery.

The Public Opinion Ltd. survey of 400 people across seven regions in Mayo also showed a 19% drop in support for Fianna Fail compared to the 2002 election, while support for Fine Gael is up 19%.

Local oppostion to Fianna Fail has been fueled by the governments actions over the Corrib project. It was Noel Dempsey who commissioned British Pipeline Agency Ltd., a company half-owned by Shell, to conduct a safety report. Despite the obvious conflicts of interest, Minister Dempsey stated, “The department accepts that BPA has completed the review in a fully professional and objective manner.”

The second company commissioned, after mounting public pressure, to conduct the safety report was Advantica. Steven Lucas, the current Group Finance Director of Advantica’s parent company, National Grid Transco Plc., has formally held management positions at Shell International Petroleum Company. Advantica’s parent company was fined £15 million in connection with a 1999 gas pipeline explosion in Scotland in which a family of four were killed.

Government support for the pipeline is perhaps unsurprising seeing as Enterprise Energy Ireland (which was taken over by Shell) held major fundraising events for Fianna Fail at the Galway Races in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 including a donation of £10,000 in 1997. Other companies involved, such as Pierce Construction, are also major Fianna Fail donators.

If the recent Mayo poll is to be believed, Fianna Fail will only win one seat next time out with a possibility of Fine Gael winning three.

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19 Responses to “Corrib Project To Become An Election Issue in Mayo?”

  1. # Comment by Simon Oct 20th, 2006 17:10

    In fairness I would say alot of the support for Fine Gael in mayo comes from the fact that they have the possibility of having the next taoiseach in the area. Which would boost fine gael. Also another poll from the daily mail http://www.irishelection.com/party-news/opinion-polls/ shows that it is fairly close for the last seat. With Jerry Crowley in danger of losing his seat. Also the survay you show, shows that the majority of people in Mayo either support shell or have no opinion. So I would say it is a bit of a stretch to say the 19% fall in Fianna Fail support comes from the Shell to Sea campaign and not other factors as well. Remember one of the FF TD’s is a Flynn

    Also as for the economics of Oil and Gas Explorations. Ireland is one of the worst place in the world to look for oil and gas. We have one of if not the worst hit rates on exploration. It is not like Norway where companies know that they are very likely to hit oil and thus are desperate to get in and will take whatever stipulations the Norwaigian make. However in Ireland where it is not likely that they will hit substantial reserves (Corrib is something like 60% the size of Kinsale) so the government have to give them a sweet deal to get them in. As without that the companies would simply not drill in Ireland and we would have little or no gas reserves of our own. As no government could justify a drilling company. It would make PPARS look like prudentally spent money

  2. # Comment by Gaz Barrett Oct 20th, 2006 18:10

    “shows that the majority of people in Mayo either support shell or have no opinion”
    ?only 15% support Shell with 40% having no opinion. If you look at it the alternate way you do then the majority of people either support Shell To Sea or have no opinion (85% combined). Admittedly 40% have no opinion. As the situation intensifies, the project could well become a doorstep issue in Mayo in a similar way the Marathon/Kinsale deal became an election issue in 1973.

    Changes to the 1975 fiscal and licensing terms where designed to encourage exploration and drilling however the record shows that the new terms introduced by Ray Burke, in 1987 and Bertie in 1992 had little effect in in encouraging gas and oil exploration. The Corrib gas field has resources worth an estimated €50.4 billion. Why should Ireland offer companies a ‘sweet deal’ if the state will recieve almost nothing from it? In fact the current deal means that we have “little or no gas reserves of our own”. With no royalties and ireland having to pay full market value it doesn’t matter if the gas in coming from the Corrib or Russia.

    In Britain the corporation tax for oil companies is 40% with a field-based petroleum revenue tax levied at 50% As for Norway..well I don’t think we’ll ever have their system of taxation.

  3. # Comment by Gaz Barrett Oct 20th, 2006 18:10

    An article from Magill on the ‘Gas Giveaway’ http://www.corribsos.com/index.php?id=54

  4. # Comment by Brian Boru Oct 20th, 2006 19:10

    Clearly out of line with what is happening nationally. FG will do well here because of Corrib and because Mayo people want a Mayo Taoiseach. But FG will still lose the election. They outpolled FF in 1997 and won 3 seats, but lost power.

  5. # Comment by Keith Gaughan Oct 20th, 2006 20:10

    Also as for the economics of Oil and Gas Explorations. Ireland is one of the worst place in the world to look for oil and gas. We have one of if not the worst hit rates on exploration. It is not like Norway where companies know that they are very likely to hit oil and thus are desperate to get in and will take whatever stipulations the Norwaigian make. However in Ireland where it is not likely that they will hit substantial reserves (Corrib is something like 60% the size of Kinsale) so the government have to give them a sweet deal to get them in. As without that the companies would simply not drill in Ireland and we would have little or no gas reserves of our own. As no government could justify a drilling company.

    Then why “sweeten the deal” at all? If it’s so unprofitable, why is it being drilled? Why are we giving private companies subsidies to do this when we’re getting next to nothing back from them? It makes no sense.

  6. # Comment by Brian Boru Oct 20th, 2006 22:10

    It does make sense when you consider Norway has 15,000 oil-wells unlike us. Drilling for oil/gas costs billions sometimes tens of billions. Only these huge multinational oil companies can afford it, but beggars can’t be choosers. We can’t really afford to explore for oil/gas outselves – even now. We can’t afford to take the risk of throwing billions down the kitchen sink. Personally, I agree that the deal was a bit too generous, but we should understand the bigger picture here – Shell is paying corporation-tax, while local businesses are benefiting from helping Shell to build the gas-terminal – so jobs are being created locally. Furthermore, this field will provide 60% of Ireland’s gas-needs. Talk of it being shipped abroad is silly – we are the location and it is more economic to sell it here. There isn’t that much of it by the standards of European fields after all. I feel what this protest is really about is the following:

    A: Political-Careerism. Certain irresponsible individuals who are scaremongering in order to get elected as Independents in the next election. This has also been a trend in recent years with hospital-candidates etc.

    B: Anti-capitalist demonstrators seeking to make an ideological point or win an ideological battle. For them, the enemy is capitalism and nothing short of nationalisation of oil and gas will satisfy them. This ignores the reality – as I have stated before – that a small country like Ireland – in spite of our wealth – does not have the tax-base to afford the extortionate cost of exploiting/exploring for oil and gas. Wake up reds.

    C: Cynical attempts by parties like the Provos to gain political-capital by involving themselves in the protest. The Sunday World has reported on this.

    D: Deluded individuals brainwashed by some or all of the above.

    E: Nimbyism.

    Mayo people need to realise this is in the national-interest and as it affects us all, they alone cannot have a veto on this crucial project. This is kind of nonsense that delays ESB power-stations for 5 yrs. Economic growth will be impeded if we cannot meet infrastructural targets so I commend the govt’s tough – if belated – response to these “Miner’s Strike” style antics of protesters at Rossport. They cannot hold the country to ransom. This isn’t the landlords of the 19th century they are dealing with but an independent Irish govt. So cop on.

  7. # Comment by mollie malone Oct 20th, 2006 23:10

    so it could be an election issue -good

  8. # Comment by Killian Oct 21st, 2006 01:10

    “The Sunday World has reported on this.”

    ERUTH

  9. # Comment by Gaz Barrett Oct 21st, 2006 02:10

    Re corporation tax: they can write it off against expenses not only incurred in Ireland but elsewhere according to the Magill article (link above)

  10. # Comment by Gaz Barrett Oct 21st, 2006 01:10

    meh, the Sunday world, hardly a paper of record. check out http://indymedia.ie/article/78890 for more info.

    a)no one is scaremongering. The independent Accufacts Risk assesment lists various safety concerns http://www.publicinquiry.ie/pdf/Fiosru_2_LOW_RES_Final.pdf

    b)The Shell ToSea campaign is not calling for full nationalisation of the project.

    c)The Sunday World has recieved revenue from the project by running ads from the corrib partners. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. It’s owner Tony O’ Reilly also has vested interest in gas and oil exploration through Providence. His papers are not going question the ‘favourable’ conditions granted to both him and the Corrib partners

    d)people canhave genuine concerns without being labelled ‘brainwashed’

    e) There is no NIMBYism involved. The Rossport community are not against the terminal or pipeline being built in Mayo. They want a shallow offshore terminal piping processed gas onshore.

    I fail to see how the project can be deemed inthe ‘national interest’. We have to pay full market value Corrib gas will not be cheaper than gas from anywhere else because it is closer to us. Shell To Sea is not anti-gas, it simply wants it to be processed at a shallow offshore terminal.

  11. # Comment by simon Oct 21st, 2006 13:10

    The Shell ToSea campaign is not calling for nationalisation of the project. Show me were any group is.

    http://www.socialistparty.net/pdf/texts/corrib30-09-05.htm .

    I think Brian Buro explained my position on the explotation of gas.

  12. # Comment by Keith Gaughan Oct 21st, 2006 21:10

    Simon, though strictly speaking your answer is correct, the Socialists are not the Shell To Sea campaign and what they publish can’t be taken as indicative of the campaign’s opinions.

    Brian, you still haven’t explained to me why the state should subsidise a for-profit enterprise to exploit a supposedly economically unviable resource.

    It does make sense when you consider Norway has 15,000 oil-wells unlike us.

    Good for Norway. I hear it has more snow and longer nights in the depths of winter too, but I don’t see how any of this impacts on the proverbial price of tea in China.

    Only these huge multinational oil companies can afford it,

    And good for them, after all, if they’re willing to put the money into exploiting the resource, willing to pay the requisite royalties for exploitation of natural resource rights and exploit said natural resources in a manner that has minimal impact on the local environment and local public safety, what’s wrong with that?

    but beggars can’t be choosers. We can’t really afford to explore for oil/gas outselves – even now.

    Here’s where you lose me: we have this resource, right? And it’s not economically viable for a for-profit business concern to exploit it, right? So we subsidise one of said concerns to exploit it, right?

    And who are these beggars? Who precisely is begging Shell to come in and tap the gas? And why?

    We can’t afford to take the risk of throwing billions down the kitchen sink.

    What billions? The resources aren’t scurrying anywhere: they could just as easily stay under the ground until their price on the open market rises to such a level that exploiting them becomes economically viable. That’s capitalism, my son: you go for the easy stuff that’s cheap to get at first, and then move onto the harder stuff when you have to, and as a resource becomes harder to exploit, its cost on the market will go up, making more marginal fields viable.

    Personally, I agree that the deal was a bit too generous

    Damn straight is was! You’re a master of understatement when it suits your argument. :-) Not that Ray Burke ever did anything at all even slightly corrupt and against the best interests of the country when it lined his pockets with a bit of moolah…

    but we should understand the bigger picture here – Shell is paying corporation-tax

    As Gaz mentioned, not an awful lot.

    while local businesses are benefiting from helping Shell to build the gas-terminal

    Oh, right: the building trade. Nothing like a bit of one-shot investment in local business rather than something sustainable.

    so jobs are being created locally.

    And after that? After all, a gas terminal can be mostly automated these days, so essentially all the profits, because of the “deal” Ray Burke made for its exploitation, go to Shell and not the Irish economy and Irish people.

    Furthermore, this field will provide 60% of Ireland’s gas-needs.

    Possibly, but as Gaz says:

    I fail to see how the project can be deemed inthe ‘national interest’. We have to pay full market value Corrib gas will not be cheaper than gas from anywhere else because it is closer to us.

    Which makes your argument pretty much moot. If this was costing us less, you might have a point.

    Anti-capitalist demonstrators seeking to make an ideological point or win an ideological battle. For them, the enemy is capitalism and nothing short of nationalisation of oil and gas will satisfy them.

    I’m from south Sligo, and I can tell you for certain that Erris and Rossport are hardly Socialist Party hotbeds. The Socialists and other anti-captialists might be jumping on the bandwagon, but they didn’t start it and they’re not in charge.

    does not have the tax-base to afford the extortionate cost of exploiting/exploring for oil and gas

    And you know, this argument would make sense if we were getting it cheaper, but we’re not.

    The Sunday World has reported on this.

    And they may have, but the Sunday World is a tabloid and, like other tabloids, tends to oversensationalise things.

    Deluded individuals brainwashed by some or all of the above.

    I’d be one of those opposed to what Shell are doing, so which would you characterise me as? I have a strong dislike of the provos, I’ve no intentions of starting a career in politics, and I’ve social-democratic leanings but could never be remotely described as anti-capitalist.

    Nimbyism

    Riiiiigght… maybe you should lay off whatever’s giving you those delusions and read up on how exactly this whole thing started. Could it possibly have been that the protestors simply wanted the gas processed into a safe form offshore? I believe it was!

    Brian, Simon, whether you’re both right in opposing Shell To Sea and supporting Shell’s actions, you need better arguments in your favour that have real substance. As things stand, your argments are weak at best.

  13. # Comment by mollie malone Oct 22nd, 2006 09:10

    How many times can they say it ?

    The Shell -to -Sea campaign is driven by the fear of a catastrophe in their area and for some, so close to their homes
    If this project was on the seafront at Clontarf in Dublin you’d hear exactly the same fear expressed but the campaign would be much bigger.

    Simply put, they dont want to be incinerated.

    Untreated gas on land is not on

    As usual in this country, the arguement is between people who see the whole picture and others who only see the bottom line for themselves. And of course politicians most of whom want to support both sides -cant be done

  14. # Comment by simon Oct 23rd, 2006 09:10

    the Socialists are not the Shell To Sea campaign

    I know just Gaz said name any group that is and the socialist are 1 group. I know there is many groups against Shell and there is many different reasons. the main 2 being the locals Safety fears and many others are against shell

    Here’s where you lose me: we have this resource, right? And it’s not economically viable for a for-profit business concern to exploit it, right? So we subsidise one of said concerns to exploit it, right?

    What makes it uneconomical to explor is all the wells that have been drill that have not struck oil. There has been hundreds if not thousands of test drills preformed in Ireland over the last 20-30 years. and only 2 Kinsale and Corrib have been demeed comerically viable. Each drill is something like 20 million a pop. So with all the misses that add ups to a lot of tax payers money. If we had the same system as norway that has far more wells then we had. The companies would look on the strike rate in Ireland. i.e. the likilhood of striking “gold” vs the potential of finding gas and realise that they would have a lot better chance of striking “gold” in Norway then they would in Ireland. It is basically the same arguement for low corporate tax rates in Ireland. In the early 80s and indeed now the only thing we had that we could offer companies was low tax. We offered it and they came. If we did not offer the low tax they would not come. Simple as.

    As for the national interests. It is in our interest that we have a stable gas supply. What is more stable Shell or Gasprom? Shell are not going to hold the country to ransom for political reasons as for Gasprom well we remember the Ukraine last year.

    Brian, Simon, whether you’re both right in opposing Shell To Sea and supporting Shell’s actions,

    Who says I am opposing Shell to Sea. I am agruing the merits of Shell vs state exploration.

    We can’t afford to take the risk of throwing billions down the kitchen sink.

    What billions? The resources aren’t scurrying anywhere:

    I think by billions he is refering to the cost of exploration. For ever corrib field there is a few hundred dry fields. We did not know that there was gas there. We could have the largest resevres of oil in the world in our seas or Corrib could be the last thing we have. We simply don’t know and to find the answer to that question costs billions. For possibly zero return. PPARS eat your heart out. Oil and gas explotation is a massive gambel. I am not sure I want the state to gambel.

  15. # Comment by Gaz Barrett Oct 23rd, 2006 13:10

    There have been 140 drills in the last 30 years not hundreds or thousands. The majority of these occurred during, in comparison to today, heavily taxed circumstances. The reductions finalised by Bertie Ahern in 1992 has not increased the rate of companies looking to explore offshore blocs.

    The idea that the argument is Shell exploration Vs State exploration is a false one .

    The idea that royalties would scare off companies is baseless, their abolition has not signifcantly increased the rate of exploration offshore. The companies involved in the corrib project are aslo in areas with more stringent tax regimes with varying drilling success rates. Giving millions to a company for PPARS, without anything in return pales in significance to giving a private company a resource worth €50.4 billion without asking for anything back.

    As Mike Cunningham, former director at statoil stated:”no other country in the world has given such favourable terms as ireland”.

  16. # Comment by Simon Oct 23rd, 2006 15:10

    The reason that exploration has not increased is because there is very little oil or gas.

    The idea that the argument is Shell exploration Vs State exploration is a false one (unless you’re in the SP). The state does not have to explore, refine and distribute the fuel itself. Private companies can do this with finds taxed through royalties like every other country from Norway to the Faroe Islands. The state does not “have to gamble”.

    Fair enough just seems the Nationalise the oil message is being put out better then the tax them more message.

    Interesting article from the SB post here. http://archives.tcm.ie/businesspost/2005/08/21/story7252.asp

    Experience of the Irish market shows that, for every 50 wells drilled, one turned out to be commercially viable, Cahill said. In Norway, one commercially-viable well is found for every three drilled. In the North Sea one is found for every six drilled.
    “Companies have just left Irish exploration – BP, Elf, Total – they’re all gone,” said Cahill. “Not long ago, we had 16 members, now we have eight.”

    and

    Industry sources also agreed that the fiscal terms in Ireland were attractive because the state had no participation in explorations and demanded no royalties.

    plus

    “But considering the lack of exploration success, they have to make the terms attractive,” Griffiths said.

  17. # Comment by Gaz Barrett Oct 23rd, 2006 16:10

    It is not necessarily true to say that their is little gas or oil of irelands shores. The corrib is worth €50.4 billion, theres a huge gas field in the Lough Allen Basin that initial tests show is nine times larger than the Corrib Gas Field while exxon mobil and tony o’reilly Providence believe theres a major oil and gas prospect in the Porcupine Basin off the west coast.

    its interesting that 8 companies have left since the governments abolition of royalties/tax breaks to attract them. Perhaps then tax wasn’t originally a large factor in low exploration rates? If it wasn’t, was there any need to remove them?

    As the guy in the article said, ” No matter how ugly you are, you’ll always find a drunken sailor,”. If there are always going to be comapnies willing to carry out explorations then it makes sense to tax them if they find anything, in my eyes anyway. I’d rather have a drunken sailor giving millions to the state than a businessman giving nothing ;)

  18. # Comment by Simon Oct 24th, 2006 09:10

    its interesting that 8 companies have left since the governments abolition of royalties/tax breaks to attract them. Perhaps then tax wasn’t originally a large factor in low exploration rates? If it wasn’t, was there any need to remove them?
    Or that we would have even less without the tax breaks?

    ” No matter how ugly you are, you’ll always find a drunken sailor,”. If there are always going to be comapnies willing to carry out explorations then it makes sense to tax them if they find anything, in my eyes anyway. I’d rather have a drunken sailor giving millions to the state than a businessman giving nothing

    Ah but if we are giving the drunken sailors crap beer we would want to make it cheap to get them in for if we give them crap beer and expensive prices, even a drunken sailor will wander on to somewhere better. ;)

  19. # Comment by Shell to Sea Oct 30th, 2006 03:10

    There is a planned day of action against Shell on November 10th, the anniversary of the execution of Ken Saro Wiwa and eight others by the Nigerian Government, backed by Shell.

    Supporters are asked to organise vigils and actions in their own area (at Shell garages for instance) or, if possible make their way to Erris to blockade the road in fron of the refinery.

    There will be a bus leaving Dublin on Thursday 9th at 6PM and returning (if everyone hasn’t been arrested) on Friday afternoon. The protest is planned for early in the morning. Send an email to Dublinshelltosea@gmail.com with your phone number to book a seat (30 euro return), or see http://www.indymedia.ie for more info.

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