Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 3 June 2021
Select Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021: Committee Stage
I will give the Deputy the details. Of the 29 existing authorisations, three are petroleum leases, only one of which is currently producing. That is the Corrib gas field. Four are lease undertakings, 18 are exploration licences, two are licensing options and two are petroleum prospecting licences.
The issue of energy security was debated extensively in recent years at hearings of previous Oireachtas committees. We must remember that, statistically, our success rate in terms of the number of offshore wells drilled has been very low, even if there are 29 authorisations. The strike rate in terms of discovering commercially recoverable oil or gas has been very low. Anyone who argues that we will be energy secure on the basis of oil and gas exploration is mistaken and promoting false security. The issue of security on our grid system is a completely different issue. The Sunday newspapers were correct that we have an issue with gas-fired power generation being out of commission at present. That will present a challenge for the coming winter. We will have to manage our supply and demand very carefully in the coming years. In many ways, that is a separate issue and it is not related to the issue of offshore oil and gas exploration.
With regard to the analysis of the switch away from oil and gas and the ending of new authorisations for oil and gas exploration, Mr. Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, stated when presenting the agency's world energy outlook at recent conferences and in giving its assessment of what we need to do for climate that every country needs to acknowledge the need to stop exploration for new oil and start cutting off the supply line of new fossil fuels. The Government and that which preceded it have probably been ahead of others in doing this. I have met representatives of the very small number of countries, including Costa Rica and Denmark, that have taken similar policy approaches. The number is growing and will continue to do as I have described. The Danes will be continuing with extraction and production for quite some time but they are taking a similar approach in that while they are not stopping existing authorisations, there are stopping new ones. That is the approach we are taking. What we are doing is very much in line with the leading-edge countries in this area.