Varadkar Announces Ban on Oil Exploration in Irish Waters

Leo Varadkar, left, with Alicia O’Sullivan, a climate activist from Cork, September 23 (Twitter)

By The Maritime Executive 09-24-2019 09:48:53

On Monday, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced that his administration will end exploration for offshore oil in Ireland's waters due to climate concerns. 

"We are accepting a recommendation from the Climate Change Advisory Council to end exploration for oil in Irish Waters, but we will continue to allow exploration for natural gas for now, as it is a transition fuel that we’ll need for decades to come," he said in a statement at the UN Climate Summit 2019. 

Varadkar's statement represents a reversal from recent statements from members of his administration, including a bullish address that Minister of State for Rural Affairs and Natural Resources Seán Canney delivered at an offshore industry gathering last year. 

The Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA) said that it would seek more clarification about the details of Varadkar's proposed ban. Some of Ireland's most promising offshore prospects are gas fields, and these would remain unaffected. 

“IOOA look forward to seeing the full detail of the proposals to be outlined in the Taoiseach’s speech at the Climate Action Summit this evening. In particular we look forward to receiving the exact detail of the proposed implementation of today’s announcement regarding future exploration in Ireland," said the group. “Our members remain committed to Ireland’s efforts to transition to renewable energy, however energy security for Ireland is an important part of that process and we will seek a meeting with Government in relation to the matter in the coming weeks.”