Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Shannon LNG Project
Tom Fleming (Kerry South, Independent)
This matter pertains to the huge investment proposed in the project mentioned - €600 million in the terminal and €400 million in the power plant. At a time when we are trying to entice investment from throughout the world, it is mind-boggling that we are looking at a gift horse in the mouth and shying away from it in the form of this €1 billion investment. As the other Deputies noted, the south-west corner of Ireland has been devastated by unemployment. It certainly is a black spot that has been overlooked in many respects during the years by IDA Ireland in the main, as well as by the other job creation agencies.
The saga of the Shannon and Tarbert land bank is ongoing and there have been many false dawns. Several projects were proposed, but they fell apart and nothing of significance has taken place. The project mentioned is the most feasible that has been put forward to date. What is ironic is that the Government set out the rules in 2001, following a debate at the Cabinet, to comply with European Union gas directives and encourage new and secure sources of gas supplies in a free and open market with no obstacles attached. Subsequently, however, the Commission for Energy Regulation made proposals that would result in a substantial proportion of the interconnection charges imposed on the direction of the energy regulator being levied on gas suppliers. Consequently, suppliers such as Shannon LNG, Corrib and Kinsale Gas were greatly affected. The Tarbert project certainly would take the main hit in this regard because the other probably have been exhausted. Moreover, when reviewing the proposals made by the Commission for Energy Regulation, the economist Colm McCarthy concluded that they were not consistent with its cost-reducing remit on energy policy. In other words, this meant they were bad for the householder, the consumer and business in general. The Minister should intervene in this regard. He has the power to so do and could issue a Government policy directive to turn things around and rescue the project because otherwise it will be lost.