Offshore oil and gas firms anxious about Government formation talks

Rig Alpha, part of the the Kinsale Head Gas Field which has delivered natural gas to Ireland's grid for decades.

Offshore oil and gas companies operating in Ireland say the current Government formation talks between Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Greens is undermining their sector and will put jobs at risk.

The three political parties are aiming to conclude talks on a programme for government by the end of the month that would end the current caretaker government.

For a number of years now the Green Party has called for an end to oil and gas exploration off the Irish coast. Such a ban was included in a list of 17 demands the Greens issued before they would enter Government formation talks.

However, the Irish Offshore Operators' Association said such a policy would mean there could not be a repeat of the Kinsale Head gas fields off the Cork coast which have provided natural gas to the Irish grid for decades but are now coming to the end of their life.

"The hope of an increase in the offshore energy sector in Cork is being sacrificed as the two main political parties look to the Greens and their 7% support to shore up a Government," the association's CEO Mandy Johnston said.

"Any proposal to undermine exploration will not only end the prospects of jobs, it will also weaken our energy security which is needed for a vibrant economy and it will actually damage the environment."

"Even if Ireland were to meet all its targets to switch over to renewable energy we will still need gas to keep us going for decades to come as that transition happens. The question is not whether we need it, it is about where do we get it?"

Ms Johnston said that if there is a ban on offshore exploration Ireland would need to import gas from the UK. 

"Not only do imports put foreign powers in charge of supply and price, they actually increase our carbon emissions. Imports generate up to 30% more emissions than Irish offshore gas."