Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Oil and Gas Finds.

55.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if there are special plans within his Department to ensure that any finds of oil or gas within the territorial limits may be handled with the expertise which such finds may merit.

I am currently having all aspects of policy relating to petroleum exploration and development in both the land and off-shore areas examined, including the organisation necessary to ensure the development of any discoveries of oil or gas to the maximum benefit of the economy.

Would the Minister go so far as to set up a special unit to deal with these things? I am told they are doing this in other countries.

Again, it is broadening the question somewhat. If, as I think we all hope, we have significant finds of oil or gas, or both, it is then inevitable that the volume of work would increase explosively. In that context of a hopeful outcome, then I would certainly have a look at the structures. But currently, since the volume of work is small, even though the decisions are important ones, I am satisfied that the senior officers of my Department plus the advice they have available from other places, including geological surveys, are adequate at present. But I will reconsider it if the need arises.