Pat Rabbitte displayed a stunning ignorance of his brief on today’s Morning Ireland (June 1st, 2011). The notion that the Corrib project will bring down the price of gas in Ireland has been repeatedly exposed as nonsense. Yet this morning Rabbitte came out with the following howler: “Gas prices have rocketed again in recent months and that has serious implications… It’s an argument as well for us getting the Corrib field onshore.” [Listen here]
The fact is that, if and when gas comes ashore from Corrib, Irish consumers will be paying the same price for it as they currently pay for the gas Ireland imports from the North Sea. This fact has been confirmed by various authorities.
On March 24th (2011), for example, the ESB’s outgoing chief executive, Padraig McManus, was on the Today with Pat Kenny radio show. He said: “But, it’s an international commodity you know, Corrib, we are not going to get Corrib Gas cheaper than gas from anywhere else, you know gas is an international commodity so we’ll pay the same price as getting it it from the UK”.
As many readers will know by now, this is because Ireland’s licensing terms do not involve any reduced price for Irish consumers. Indeed, Shell and partners can export the gas, which means Bord Gais must bid against suppliers in the UK.
Of course, from the point of view of the oil industry in Ireland and of the Petroleum Affairs Division civil servants helping them fight their corner, this “gaffe” is very helpful. It adds currency to the idea that Corrib needs to be brought ashore urgently; and to the broader notion that the sooner we get all of Ireland’s offshore oil and gas ashore the better for the people of Ireland.
So, depending on how conspiracy theory inclined you are, Rabbitte’s claim about the price of gas and Corrib is either deliberate misinformation to help push through the troubled project or simple cluelessness on Pat Rabbitte’s part.
The item on Morning Ireland also illustrates how poorly informed Irish journalists tend to be on issues around Irish oil and gas. The interviewer didn’t pick him up on it. And an RTÉ news item that today led with the following: “The Minister for Energy & Natural Resources has said that the increased price of gas is an argument for proceeding with the Corrib gas project as soon as possible.” (Rabbitte: Shell protest not in Irish interest)
It’s no wonder the mainstream news media is perceived in some quarters to be promoting the Corrib Gas project. Most of the time, it’s probably just a case of journalists having the attitude: “don’t know, can’t be bothered to check.”
Listen to Rabbitte’s poorly-informed stint on Morning Ireland here.