Monday, July 29, 2013 by Geoff Percival- Irish Examiner
“The main representative body for Ireland’s exploration industry has called for the Government to hold back on plans to increase the potential tax take from companies drilling for oil and gas in Irish waters.
As it currently stands, the Government stands to receive between 25% and 40% of profits from any commercial field in Irish waters — of which there are currently none (although Barryroe, in the Celtic Sea, is on course to be the first).
However, Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte recently said that he intends to seek independent expert advice, by the end of this year, on what level of fiscal gain should be achieved by Ireland and how the State should go about achieving it.
A recent Joint Oireachtas Committee called for the profit take to be as high as 80%, which would mirror the Norwegian model.
However, while it takes 78% of the profit from any commercial field in its waters, Norway — as well as having a more mature and developed offshore exploration industry than Ireland — also repays the same percentage of drilling costs to companies if said field is found to be dry; something Ireland — in current economic times — could not do.
At the end of a week that has seen international oil giant ExxonMobil put an indefinite pause on its interest in Ireland by finding no sign of any commercial hydrocarbons at initial drill at the highly-anticipated Dunquin field off the south-west coast of the country, the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association has called for a rethink by Government.
“We think the Government should be cautious in its approach,” said Fergus Cahill, chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association.
“It would be a great mistake to change the fiscal terms at this stage, especially in light of Dunquin, and at a time when we are just beginning to see more activity in Irish waters and more companies come in,” he added.”