I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 184 together.
It is a condition of EU and International Energy Agency (IEA) membership that all Member States maintain certain levels of strategic oil reserves to maintain security of oil supply. The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) is responsible for maintaining Ireland’s 90 days of strategic oil stocks for use in the event of an oil supply disruption. It is a matter for each Member State to decide on the manner in which they fund this security of supply obligation and this will vary from Member State to Member State. NORA receives no Exchequer funding and is funded by way of a levy on disposals of petroleum products and by bank borrowings. I do not believe that the NORA levy creates competition issues between EU Member States. All Member States have to bear the cost of the strategic oil stocks requirement and ultimately this requirement will be transferred by way of price inclusion to consumers.
The NORA levy is not imposed directly on firelighters or fire logs as such, although oil may be a constituent element of such products and the levy would be payable on that constituent part. The NORA Act 2007 provides that the levy must be paid by all companies on the oil products specified in the legislation. An exemption is provided for in the case of companies that maintain 55 days of oil stocks, on the basis of their previous year’s oil consumption.
My Department received an application from the company concerned for an exemption from NORA levy duty under Section 38 of the NORA Act, 2007 in 2011 but that application was unsuccessful because it did not satisfy the requirements of Section 38 and Section 62 of the NORA Act. Officials of my Department met with representatives of the company to outline the position.
I understand that whilst a revised proposal was subsequently put to my Department by the company that my Department had no contact from the company since June 2012. My officials have contacted the company and are seeking to clarify the position as soon as possible.