The moral hypocrisy of Irish energy policy was typified with news of the greenlighting of the Celtic Interconnector between France and Ireland in recent weeks.
A billion euro investment to shore up post-Brexit electricity supplies, the move has drawn criticism owing to the fact France generates its power primarily from nuclear production, a feat blocked under current Irish legislation.
Prohibiting nuclear power at home the state is nevertheless happy to tap into reserves generated by nuclear abroad so heightened is its sanctimony and naivety towards future energy needs.
This is all occurring within the context of a looming energy crisis come the Winter as well as An Taoiseach flying to Brussels with the intent of ratcheting up sanctions against Russian energy imports.
With a disproportionately high energy import dependency rate relative to the rest of the EU, Ireland further strangles production through a variety of green edicts and legal challenges stopping LNG production.
Industry experts decry the fact that Ireland is leveraged to the hilt towards the success or failure of renewables with our geopolitical existence at the end of almost every major supply chain scarcely factoring into decision making.
No greater indictment can be found to the current order than the state’s lethargic attitude to the development of the Barryroe oil and gas field 50 kilometres south of the Cork coast.
80% owned by the resource exploration group Providence,the company itself completed a strategic survey on the Barryroe field with estimates of more than 346 million barrels of oil present at the site, making it one of Europe’s untapped reserves. In comparison the state requires circa 152,000 barrels of oil a day to meet current demand.
Situated 100 metres deep into the sea shore a major incentive for the development is the already existing infrastructure from the Kinsale Head pipeline unused since that field went dark in 2020 after meeting the majority of Ireland’s gas needs since 1971.
Stressing the assistance Barryroe could provide towards 2050 Energy Goals in the eyes of Providence the opening up of production would be a net positive both for local employment and the national exchequer.
Set against the tailing off of production at Corrib combined with geopolitical uncertainty abroad such a move is a no brainer for a state wishing to keep the boat afloat on energy security.
Partnered with Lansdowne Oil and Gas the potential drill operation has unexpectedly encountered the cold shoulder from Eamon Ryan at the Department of the Environment who Providence have repeatedly appealed in vain to get drilling fast tracked.
Nevertheless the plans have found some support in the Oireachtas by way of the Rural Independent Group consisting of 6 TDs including Mattie McGrath and the Healy-Rae duo.
Cautioning that Ireland is to exhaust gas production at Corrib by 2031 and import the entirety of its oil needs, Providence highlights the potential to get the field operational by the end of 2026 and is currently seeking potential equity partners to finance the endeavour
Expected to cost €57m to get up and running, future drilling at Barryroe may furter sweeten the deal for investors.
The prospect of oil prospecting may very well leave a nasty taste in the mouth of many Irish people owing to previous corporate and state tomfoolery at Corrib nevermind historic incidents of corruption around the industry.
Regardless,time is increasingly of the essence for the state to safeguard our energy future as renewables hit the wall, nuclear power is ruled out by law and stormclouds gather abroad. Grandstanding on Ukraine or climate change means little when lights are going out in Dublin and domestic energy production flatlines right at the time its needed most.
Barryroe will not be without its blemishes but gives us at least breathing room to plot a viable energy future should we grasp it. A state even halfway in our interests would have availed of it years ago.