Natural Resources Policy

Oil and Gas

Gas, oil, wave, wind and solar energy are some of the astounding natural resources available in Ireland. These and other natural resources could be the key to Ireland’s economic regeneration, providing sustainable growth within the island. Current estimates of the size of Irish gas and oil resources can be derived from a range of sources, including details released by individual companies.

The Department of Communications, Energy, and Natural Resources (DCENR) has been tight-lipped on the overall value of Irish hydrocarbons. However, a 2010 press release announcing the opening of the Atlantic Margin Licensing programme indicated that potential reserves of 10 billion barrels of gas or oil could be found in the Atlantic Margin, west of Ireland. The value of such resources clearly depends on the costs of recovering the hydrocarbons and the amount which can be commercially recovered. In addition, fluctuating oil prices make estimates of hydrocarbon potential challenging.

Nevertheless, a possible value of around $460 billion can be placed on resources located in Ireland’s Atlantic Margin.

A 2007 report by the US Government Accountability Office showed that Ireland had the second lowest rate of government tax take among 142 fiscal systems.

Another international study by petroleum consultant, Daniel Johnston (2008) examined 45 fiscal systems with Ireland having the lowest rate of government take – half the rate of countries with a similar economic approach such as the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

Considering that the international trend is for states to receive the largest share of the pie, why does the Irish tax regime remain stubbornly low?