Shale Gas Benefits and Costs
Tamboran’s desk-top study suggests their operations might give the Republic (the equivalent of) 12 years of current gas consumption, 600 local jobs by 2025, and potential tax revenues up to €4.9 billion. (Tamboran Resources Press release 1st February. 2012)
Up to €4.9 billion equals an average of up to €140m per annum over 35 years – would that cover the cost of adequate regulation, inspection, legal fees and road repairs, social costs, to mention just some?
Set against current and planned/potential employment and foreign exchange earnings for food, drinks, and infant formula the above potential shale gas benefits are negligible. And it should be borne in mind that in 2011 the United States Geological Survey downgraded the Marcellus Shale gas reserves estimate by 80%. The original estimates were supplied by the industry.
(Bloomberg August 23rd 2011)The British Geological Survey has put the likely recoverable Shale Gas in Lancashire at less than 0.47 trillion cu. ft., which is 1/400th of Quadrilla’s stated estimate of 200 trillion cu. ft. (Guardian April 17th 2012).
Employment in Tourism is an important element in the rural and national economy. The NW & Borders region alone shows 15,432 employed, and nationally c. 178,000 employed. (Failte Ireland)
If only a 2% sales drop (from current figures) in the above industries’ earnings occurred over the next 35 years it would mean a loss of c. €8.2 billion. and job losses of 6000. A 5% sales drop (from current figures) would cost €20.5Bn over 35 years with 14,500 jobs lost. In addition, projected growth in sales and employment would be lost.
With our dependence on our clean green image, it is prudent to question if the losses might not be far higher. Moreover, to increase shale gas revenues by expanding the regional coverage will surely have the effect of correspondingly greater losses in exports and jobs. Energy alternatives
In addition to our commitment to the inevitable move towards renewable sources, we need to consider the following.
40% of our energy is used in domestic dwellings. That is a huge amount, and offers a big, clean, and safe opportunity. An investment in conservation measures could employ thousands who are already skilled at building, without any environmental risks, and help meet our emissions reductions commitments.
The energy benefits to be derived from conservation are permanent.
Household energy costs will be cut, freeing up money for spending with consequent jobs multiplier effects.
There is optimism and enthusiasm for long-term sustainable growth in revenues and employment from Ireland’s Agriculture and Food Industry.
This is dependent on preserving Ireland’s reputation as a green, clean environment.
There is at present insufficient independent scientific data available anywhere to make a decision on shale gas. In the meantime, the Precautionary Principle must apply.
The gas will still be there in 20 years time.
Given the controversy surrounding the shale gas industry, there should be no requirement on the part of Irish people to prove anything.