Written Answers. - Offshore Exploration.

Michael D. Higgins

Ceist:

32 Mr. M. Higgins asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources when he expects to issue a petroleum lease to two companies (details supplied) to develop the Corrib field; if it is intended to attach any conditions to the lease; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17399/01]

A draft petroleum lease has been issued by my Department in respect of the Corrib field and deliberations have commenced in respect of it. As soon as these are completed, which I expect will be in the coming weeks, I will be in a position to issue a lease.

The main provisions attaching to the lease provide for adherence by the lessees to all legislation relating to petroleum development and for complying with the Department's 1992 licensing terms for offshore developments. These terms provide for,inter alia, the submission to me for my approval of a plan of development accompanied by an environmental impact statement to which I can attach conditions if required. No development work can commence until the plan of development and its accompanying EIS have been submitted to me and fully assessed, including the undertaking of a public consultation process on the EIS.

Question No. 33 answered with Question No. 14.