The Minister said Ireland offered great opportunities in offshore exploration and had opened up the entire Porcupine Basin off the West and South West coast in the latest licensing round.
Minister Ahern said Ireland wanted to send out a strong signal internationally that we welcomed inward investment and we welcomed offshore exploration. In Ireland we are committed to regional development, much as the Governments of Scandanavia are. As a Government we want to promote the Border Midland and West Region.
While not wishing to comment on the specifics of the recent An Bord Pleanala decision on the Corrib gas field he stated that the impact could not have been quantified before development work commenced. The precise impact would only have become apparent with the passage of time. The minister believes that such a development would have had many benefits to the State, the local Community and the BMW region in a number of ways.
The benefits to the State as a whole can be summarised as follows:
Speaking in Oslo the Minister said a number of Irish companies were contracted as subcontractors and Killybegs would have continued to be the main harbour used by the developers.
The Minister said Enterprise Energy Ireland expected that the number of direct construction jobs would start at 100, rise to 500 before falling back to 200 over the time frame of the project. In addition the company had stated that the number of jobs to operate the terminal is put at around 60 over a three shift cycle.
Mayo and the Northwest perform poorly on most economic criteria. The availability of indigenous competitively priced gas should facilitate an improvement in the regions energy infrastructure and supply position and thereby help stimulate further investment in Mayo and the Northwest.
The development of the gas field would contribute to the potential economic and social regeneration of Mayo and the northwest region and to the sustainable development of the area, in that it would have acted as a catalyst for the extension of the natural gas network to the west of Ireland. It would have facilitated the improvement of the regions infrastructure, particularly its electricity supply and distribution network, thereby removing a barrier to inward investment. And, significantly increased local employment, especially in the construction phase, and the long term by way of terminal jobs.
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