Energy, April 2010

AT PRIVATE MEMBERS ON ENERGY SECURITY 21st APRIL 2010.

Ireland is dangerously exposed to oil or gas price hikes or import disruptions. This has serious implications for business projects, company manufacturing and exports in the State. The economic stability of the country is at risk in the event of electricity disruptions. I believe that the Government needs to address insufficient energy storage capacity and develop indigenous energy supplies. The economic damage that can occur when taken for granted systems break down. The current aviation crisis has highlighted this.

A sudden price hike in oil or gas prices or long term disruption in energy supplies with the amount of revenue lost by the current crisis will pale into comparison with this. 90% of gas and all oil used for electricity generation is imported. There is no gas storage in Ireland and there is very limited storage of strategic oil supplies. Severe disruptions will occur in electricity supply within days of disruptions to import of fossil fuels.

I welcome the fact energy security is firmly on the agenda of Fine Gael to pressure the Government to address our insufficient energies storage capacity.

The Government must also further develop our own indigenous energy supplies. We must be prepared to weather a crisis in the event of a sudden price hike.

The Government is being reckless with the economics stability of the country once again by ignoring Irelands energy security problems.

90% of gas and oil used for electricity generation is imported. Between 1990 and 2007 there was an increase of 108% in imported energy. Gas has replaced other fuels such as turf and coal in the generation of electricity. Our own indigenous suppliers of gas only meets only 8% of our gas needs. Indigenous gas is imported through Kinsale while our only gas storage facility to the depleted part of the Kinsale field holds up to 11 days of supply at any one time. Two inter connector pipelines from Moffat in Scotland import almost 95% of our natural gas. These are the only connection to the European gas distribution. The interruption of gas supplies at Moffat will cause extreme difficulty for Ireland if it so happened.

We must acknowledge that U.K. reserves are in decline and the country is now a net importer of gas itself. Supply shocks in the U.K market will reverberate seriously in Ireland. Also rapidly depleting are the European gas reserves such as the North Sea. Most European nations will become more dependent on importing oil and gas from areas of geo political instability.

In the event of this occurring Ireland will find itself at the end of a very long supply chain. 56% of the world natural gas reserves are held by Russia, Iran and Quatar, while the worlds largest volumes of oil reside in the Middle East, Russia and the Caspian region. These have been dominated in recent years by energy supply disputes between the Ukrane and Russia resulting in the restriction of supplies to the European Union. The EU is now forced into the position to look at ways of gaining energy independence as a long term solution to achieving energy security. The Government must immediately look to extend the remit of the National Oil Reserves Agency to develop strategic gas reserves. At present the National Oil Reserve Agency does not have any remit for strategic gas storage. Presently Bord Gais are exploring further gas storage options for commercial purposes as nobody in the State has this responsibility.

The National Oil Reserve Agency must investigate options for gas storage and how to better improve security of supply of electricity generation. Fine Gael demands an increase in requirement on gas fired electricity generators to hold back up stocks of oil from 5 to 10 days so as to permit electricity generation to continue for a longer period of time in the event of a shortage or absence of gas.