Hydrocarbons may eventually kill us, but the economy could die first – The Irish Times

Anyone with young children knows the dilemma. From time to time, they will ask you for something that you do not want to give. But you also don’t want to say no outright, in case a tantrum is triggered that creates even more stress.

For example, it could be about ice cream. You don’t have to say yes because they just had chocolate an hour ago. But be careful to say no, lest they start rolling on the supermarket floor and you end up buying them a Loop the Loop just to get the afternoon back on track.

So what should I do? Parenting gurus will tell you to provide positive discipline and communicate clearly with her child. Others still rely on an old tried and tested formula, just ignore them. Drag it. I barely recognize it. Don’t give him an answer and eventually he’ll get tired of asking and give up.

That seems to be Eamon Ryan’s approach to Ireland’s oil and gas exploration industry, if that’s not too extravagant a description for the collection of unwanted (by investors) and unwanted (by government) penny stocks. that were leaked before the State. banned all new licenses last year.

The Environment Minister does not want to say yes to new permits or leases that could allow existing licensees to advance their exploration blocks; if they start pumping oil or gas out of the ground, he would politically embarrass the leader of the Green Party. But he is reluctant to say no, lest he cause a big scene and the companies turn to a third party, such as a judge, to present his case.

Instead, Ryan simply ignores them, dragging out their requests in an extravagant spectacle of kicking cans, deep into the road ahead.

Barryroe’s perspective

Providence Resources, soon to be renamed Barryroe and whose largest shareholder is Larry Goodman, has been waiting for 16 months for a government lease for an appraisal well that is essential to bringing the estimated 300 million barrels of oil into its Barryroe prospect to the surface of the Celtic Sea floor.

Meanwhile, Europa Oil & Gas received a condescending rebuff from the State last week, as it eagerly awaits an extension to the first phase of a 15-year exploration license for an area adjacent to the Corrib gas field on the west coast of Ireland.

Europe believes the Inishkea prospect has a good chance of finding gas and wants to do more technical analysis before moving on from phase one, which is due on July 31. You need state permission. Last week, two days before the egg time ran out, he told investors that state officials say his license for Inishkea “will remain active until the department notifies the company otherwise.” Please, dad, can I have a weird foot? Why don’t you answer me, dad, please?

There are two very different camps in the debates surrounding these cases. I think it’s very easy to see both sides. Each has credible arguments that the other can’t easily dismiss, though that doesn’t change the fact that Ryan’s aloofness in dealing with issues decisively risks one of the companies eventually launching a fit of hysteria at the aisle seven.

Ryan has made Ireland a world leader in the environmentalist school of thought that there should be no more oil or gas exploration and that the industry must go to bed as quickly as possible. If we keep pumping stuff out of the ground, we’ll keep burning it and ruining the planet. The less we pump, the less we can burn. You cannot reason with the scientific inevitability of what will happen if emissions are not drastically reduced.

secure supply

Ireland is a core founding member of the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (Boga) which aims at nothing less than the death of the hydrocarbons industry. Ryan was on stage at Cop26 in Glasgow when Boga was launched. He is clearly committed to the cause.

However, the weakness of Ryan and his side in the debate is their unwillingness to acknowledge the credibility of the other side’s arguments. Like it or not, we still need new and secure supplies of hydrocarbons until cleaner, renewable forms of energy can fully take over. Otherwise, we will become dependent on fuel imports from autocratic regimes that spread instability, or the most vulnerable members of our society will suffer as prices rise.

Ryan may cringe at the political awkwardness of being seen facilitating the pumping of oil from the Celtic Sea or gas from the West Coast. But that is vanity. Producing hydrocarbons at home is infinitely better than buying them from the imperialist Vladimir Putin or the Mohammed bin Salman regime in Saudi Arabia. They will never sign up for an initiative like Boga. Your type will always be around, and others will always want to buy from you.

It is indisputable that our economy and society still need hydrocarbons and we are not yet ready to abandon them for other sources. That must remain the goal. But even Ryan knows that he will take more time, even if he deepens the environmental damage. The state knows it too. That’s why Irish regulators awarded tenders in February for nine new gas-fired power stations to be built by 2024 to cope with electricity demand and avoid a power shortage on the island.

How can that acknowledgment of reality be reconciled with Ryan’s indulgence in Providence and Europe? His approach helps leave Ireland vulnerable to external price shocks and security of supply problems.

However, human nature being what it is, it may also be true that developed economies like ours never make a proper leap into renewables until they make us feel the real pain of being dependent on hydrocarbons.

Should we burn the planet, or the economy and, with it, the standard of living of ordinary people? What an awful mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

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