Bono's village braces for fight in oil drill plan

 

Dublin, Ireland

In an Irish village known more for its riches than resources, locals used to celebrity spotting are steeling themselves for a fight over oil.

Providence Resources and its partner won a license on Sept. 27 to carry out exploratory drilling in Dublin Bay, 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) east of Dalkey, where U2 frontman Bono and fellow musician Van Morrison have homes. The plans are pitting villagers who welcome the potential investment against others frightened of the impact on the landscape.

"If there was an oil spill, it would be a disaster for the people living here," said John O'Sullivan, 66, a writer, out for a walk on the beach facing the proposed location of the rig. "They'll never get permission to drill commercially; the well- heeled locals here will see to that."

While no viable oilfield has ever been found in Irish waters, local lawmakers and conservation groups are preparing for battle against Providence, which says the coast has the potential to be the new North Sea. Oil and gas production there contributed more than $480 billion to British tax revenue over the past 40 years, according to Oil & Gas U.K.

For Ireland, one of five euro countries to ask for an international bailout, tapping national resources may be a way to help it out of its worst recession in modern history, Providence Chief Executive Officer Tony O'Reilly said.

"There is a lot of scaremongering going on which isn't based on the hard facts," he said in an Oct. 10 interview. "The government isn't investing its private capital and yet there will be huge tax benefits that will accrue with success."

Dublin-based Providence announced in July the discovery of more than a billion barrels of oil in the Barryroe field about 30 miles south of the Irish coast. That project is likely to be profitable even if oil prices fall to $20 or $30, O'Reilly said at the time. A barrel of benchmark Brent oil for November settlement traded at $116 today.

The Dalkey Bay project has a 20 percent chance of success, according to Job Langbroek, an oil and gas analyst at Dublin- based stockbroker Davy. Oil and gas finds across the sea near Liverpool in England bode well for a discovery in Dublin Bay as proof of hydrocarbons, he said.

At Finnegan's, which drinkers say is Bono's local bar when he's home, some regulars are backing the project. Pub owner Dan Finnegan says the country needs the exploration to help ease Ireland's economic travails, which started in 2008 with the collapse of the property market and ensuing banking crisis.

"Let's get the show on the road," said Gerard Pierse, 70, a retired engineer enjoying a drink at Finnegan's. "There is a whole lot of oil out there."

Providence plans to begin exploring there next year, according to O'Reilly, who estimated recoverable oil from the project at 250 million barrels.

Any spill from that could leave a large swathe of Dublin's coastline contaminated, according to Philip O'Donoghue, a software developer, who in January helped set up Protect Our Coast, a group that opposes the drilling. The risk of a large gush from a well blow-out is "extremely small," O'Reilly said.

"Who is going to want to come to a country that has just had a major oil spill?" said O'Donoghue, a Dalkey resident who kayaks off the shoreline.

Local fisherman have also objected that the drilling site is in the middle of fishing grounds for crab and scallops and even a small spill would destroy that industry, according to submissions sent to the government.

In Ireland, local opposition can be a powerful tool. Royal Dutch Shell's development of a gas field off Ireland's west coast has been mired in delays since its discovery in 1996. Locals concerned about the proximity of pipes to their homes and the environmental impact on the area continue to fight plans to bring gas onshore from the field by early 2015.

With its pretty street vistas and clutch of upmarket bars and restaurants overlooking the bay, Dalkey has been a magnet for the rich. Eddie Irvine, a former Formula On motor racing driver, along with film director Neil Jordan have lived there.

While local celebrities haven't joined the campaign, more than 300 people attended at three meetings earlier this year, and voted in favour of a public inquiry before drilling begins, according to O'Donoghue. A London-based spokeswoman for Bono said in an Oct. 12 e-mail that the singer wasn't immediately able to comment on the proposed drilling.

"Let them take a look, and hope they find nothing," said Blaithin O'Brien, owner of Dalkey Pharmacy near Finnegan's. "If they do find something, then let all the negotiations start. But I am not prepared to see Dalkey destroyed by it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick