Drilling off Dalkey

Drilling for oil or gas is often a contentious issue and we only need to look west to see the controversy between Shell and the local residents of Rossport. However in the last few months this controversy has come closer to home with the possibility of drilling in Dalkey becoming a reality. We know that oil and gas reserves are running out globally, and the chance of having our own natural resources would be of huge benefit to our country ñ or would it?

Providence Resources is an Irish Company, headed up by Tony O’Reilly and they have obtained licences to explore a number of sites around the coast of Ireland where there may be gas or oil. In February 2011 Providence were given a licence to explore the possibility of oil on Dalkey Island. To explain clearly the process as we understand it here at News Four, let us first look at another island where Providence are 12-18 months further down the line.

Rathlin Island is off the north coast of County Antrim, Providence was granted a planning application to examine if oil existed in enough quantity and quality to justify commercial drilling. In the first two years of this licence the research was desk-based, now it has moved onto the next phase which is test drilling. Rathlin Island a popular tourist destination and bird sanctuary is now getting an oil rig.

John O’Sullivan (Technical Director of Providence) told William Hederman (journalist and campaigner ñ www.shelltosea.com) that oil will most likely be transported from Dalkey Island by tanker. He went on to say that in the event of an oil spill oil can travel at a rate of at least 6km per hour. So within one to two hours of an oil spill Dublin Bay could be seriously affected.

If there was a way in which we as a community were to benefit, we could perhaps shoulder the environmental concerns, but there are no jobs, no oil processing in Ireland and Bord Gais will have to compete with international bidders to buy back our own natural resources. It seems all the potential positives are gone and we are left with only potential risks.

We as residents of the area need to get informed and get involved. As long as our voices are heard we may be able to influence campaigners or politicians. It seems strange that for both Rathlin Island and Dalkey Island there is a lack of information in the media and a lack of a challenge to Providence. Do we need a public hearing? Do we need to have more transparent information on what will affect our area? If we have natural resources which can be easily extracted for economic gain, then we need to make sure our country benefits and our environment is protected.

By Joan Mitchell