Why Occupy Corrib House? - End the Gas Giveaway!


This morning myself and a number of my comrades from the WSM along with members of Eirigi occupied the roof and reception of Corrib House to draw attention to the state giveaway of Irelands natural resources. Outlined here is my understanding of why we need to act to regain control of our resources.

Over 200 gardai have been stationed indefinitely in a small community in the West of Ireland who are resisting the construction of an on land refinery and dangerous high pressure pipeline.

There have been violent scenes as the states forces step in to ensure the construction goes ahead. While many people focus on the safety of the pipeline a greater controversy is going unnoticed, that our government has given away 8 billion euro worth of gas, enough to provide the needs of the entire nation for the next 20 years, to a private company who are only obliged to sell 30% of this back to us and that will be at normal market prices. Added to this the Dunquin field, which is 10 times the size of Corrib and apparently one of the 20 biggest oil and gas fields in the world, was given to Media-Monopolist Tony O Reilly’s company Providence Resources for 1euro.

The corrib gas field was discovered in 1996, lies 70km off the north west coast of Mayo and is roughly 250 million years old. It is currently owned by a consortium of Shell, Statoil and Marathon who received permission from Mayo council to begin work in 2004 subject to 75 conditions. The gas field is part of a larger basin of gas fields estimated to be worth over 50 billion euro (At $60 a barrel). The original licence for the corrib gas field was granted to Enterprise Energy Ireland, a group who held annual fundraising events for Fianna Fail at the Galway races from 1998 until 2001. In 2002 the Shell-led consortium bought out Enterprise Energy.

In 1975 Ireland had a tax rate of 50% for gas companies as well as an automatic stake of 50% on any commercial well and royalties of 6%-7% on gas extracted. In 1987, Ray Burke, who was later found to be “corrupt” by the Flood Tribunal, removed the 50% state stake and royalties following lobbying by gas companies. This was then reduced to 25% with a 100% tax write off by Bobby Molloy, former minister for Energy and Fianna Fail’er turned Progressive Democrat. This massive change in policy means that not only do we not benefit from our own natural resources but due to tax breaks we are also paying the companies to extract them.

While other European states can take between 55% to 80% of a field, Norwegian citizens via Statoil stand to benefit more from the Corrib field than Irish citizens. Venezuela and Bolivia have seen moves by their respective governments to nationalise their oil supplies recently and have changed the status of companies extracting gas and oil to “partners” with the state claiming ultimate ownership of the oil. This gas could be used to fund our health service, public transport and to provide a sustainable infrastructure based on renewable energy, it could also alongside Dunquinn serves Western Europes oil and gas needs for a considerable period ending dependency on imported gas.

I took part in the occupation of Corrib house because I want the gas deal to be renegotiated and I feel that a broader struggle for national resources is vital as we enter an era in which oil prices are constantly rising while supplies are starting to dwindle. This is just the start of a very long battle – but we must start to bring attention to the gas giveaway and fight for a better Ireland.

First published on indymedia.ie

Audio files and report

Shells HQ on Leeson street in Dublin was occupied by activists protesting the give away of Ireland natural resources to this corporation depriving the health and education system of billions of euro worth of needed funds.

The lobby was been occupied and a banner hung from the roof. The audio file below is an interview with someone occupying the lobby. Its 1mb mp3 and around 2.5 minutes in duration

Short audio update saying that a large number of Special Branch and public order unit have arrived

An interview with someone occupying the lobby - 27march mp31 MB
Large number of Special Branch and public order unit have arrived mp3320.92 KB