Ireland: Black gold fever spreading in Cork
2 January 2013
Ireland, which took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union on January 1, may have found a way out of the crisis thanks to off-shore petrol. The idea has taken hold in Dublin since a bout of "black gold fever in Cork" notes Spanish daily La Vanguardia caused by the discovery of oil deposits in the Irish Sea. Ireland's second largest city is now "awaiting an economic boom" with the idea "fostering dreams" in a country deeply hit by the crisis, the paper says, adding –
Representatives from ExxonMobil, Texaco and other major oil companies lunch in the city's pubs and restaurants on the banks of the River Lee, just like, in Dublin, where the members of The Troika [Ireland's creditors, the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank]. But in this case, the intention is to invest and not to dictate their lending conditions.
The deposit, called the Barryfoe Field, is estimated at 280 million barrels worth €30 billion. There is only one detail yet to be resolved – where to find the €1.5 billion needed to exploit the deposit. Gathering these funds is the goal of a company called Providence, created by the local tycoon and former rugby player Tony O'Reilly. He says he wants to make Cork "one of the most prosperous cities in Europe". La Vanguardia says –
In the past, oil deposits were found in the Irish Sea, but their high exploitation costs made them unprofitable. The situation today is much more favourable because of the development of cheaper extraction techniques, the rise in the price of petrol and the low taxes on foreign firms investing in Ireland (the country has the lowest corporate tax rate in Europe, a constant source of friction with Brussels). Cork, the European headquarters for Apple and the site of US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer's Viagra factory hopes to move to the next level and join the major league economic and financial big hitters. It hopes to become to Ireland what Aberdeen has become to Scotland and that the petrol from the Irish Sea will provide the same benefits as that provided by the North Sea. With [global] oil use reaching 88 million barrels per day and with a thirst for it so insatiable that environmental considerations are unable to quench it, this is not just wishful thinking.