Written Answers. - Offshore Exploration.

Joe Higgins

Question:

79 Mr. Higgins (Dublin West) asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the Government's policy in relation to oil exploration and using oil reserves which may be found. [22274/98]

The Government is committed to realising the full potential of oil and gas resources offshore Ireland. The Government's policy objectives are being pursued through the licensing of competent operators to explore for oil and gas in Irish waters. This strategy is underpinned by taxation and licensing terms which are competitive in international terms having regard to comparative prospectivity.

In relation to the use of any oil reserves which may be found the position is that the sale of any petroleum produced by the holder of an authorisation issued by my Department would be a matter for the operator concerned. The 1992 licensing terms provide that all petroleum produced shall be sold by, and payment made to, a person resident in Ireland.

It is Government policy to ensure that the Irish economy benefits to the maximum extent possible from offshore exploration within the constraints of EU legislation. I have urged the Irish Offshore Operators Association and the individual operators to give Irish suppliers of goods and services and indeed Irish workers the opportunity to participate in offshore activities and I will continue to do so.

A more detailed statement of policy and strategy for this sector may be found in my Department's Strategy Statement. I am arranging for a copy to be sent to the Deputy.