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Press Releases
For Immediate Release
Press Release November 14th 2023:

Irish Green Party Leader, Energy Minister Eamon Ryan, officially signals his intention to make an LNG U-turn on the current government policy against LNG terminals and the importation of fracked gas into Ireland.
It is amazing to see how a Green Party Minister for Energy can argue that the construction of new Large-scale LNG fossil fuel infrastructure can bring more energy security to Ireland. And what is worse is that the Irish householders will be expected to pay for it.

Energy Minister, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, has today signaled his intention to reverse the Green Party policy banning LNG fracked gas terminals in Ireland in his new Energy Strategy, rolling back on his promise "to implement the policies which will see an end to the importation of fracked gas via any LNG terminals in Ireland".

His intentions to support the construction of a floating LNG terminal in Ireland similar to the proposed Shannon LNG terminal were finally published in his long-awaited Energy Security Review which outlines a new strategy to ensure energy security in Ireland to 2030 - entitled "Energy Security in Ireland to 2030".

Action 17 of the new Energy strategy published today states that "based on preliminary analysis of the Department, it is anticipated that a Floating reserve (FSRU) will best meet these criteria" to introduce a "Strategic Gas Emergency Reserve to protect Ireland in the event of a gas supply disruption as Ireland makes a secure transition to majority renewable energy". An FSRU (or Floating Storage Regasification Unit) is in fact a floating LNG terminal similar to the one proposed by Shannon LNG.

It is amazing to see how a Green Party Minister for Energy can argue that the construction of new Large-scale LNG fossil fuel infrastructure can bring more energy security to Ireland. And what is worse is that the Irish householders will be expected to pay for it - a fact that Shannon LNG will use to its advantage as it lobbies Irish politicians.

The LNG ban in Ireland is being unacceptably chipped away at:

  • It started off in April 2020, when the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, as a precondition to talks on the formation of a government with the Green Party, both agreed in writing to Eamon Ryan that "both of our parties accept that as we move towards carbon neutrality, it does not make sense to build new large-scale fossil fuel infrastructure such as liquid natural gas import terminals".
  • Then, on exiting the talks the Green Party got a reduced agreement in the Programme for Government that "As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it makes sense to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas".
  • Then, in June 2020, Minister Eamon Ryan tweeted ".@SafetyBeforeLng be rest assured, if we can agree to the #PFG [Programme for Government] we will implement the policies which will see an end to the importation of fracked gas via any LNG terminals in Ireland".
  • Then the historic world's first policy against the importation of fracked gas published in May 2021 only banned LNG terminals in Ireland until the Energy Review was completed.
  • Then, in September 2022, Eamon Ryan's Department published a short-list of preferred options which ruled out only "commercial" LNG terminals.
  • Now, today, the Energy Strategy published by Minister Ryan proposes to support a "State-led Strategic Gas Emergency reserve" floating LNG terminal which could be somewhat commercial because it notes that:
    • a) "State-led means commissioned by the State",
    • b) "it does not preclude a public-private partnership nor the involvement of private firms contracted to provide, build or operate the necessary infrastructure",
    • c) "it is a similar approach to the energy security measure in place for oil security, through NORA [the National Oil Reserves Agency]" which the Energy Strategy notes "From time-to-time NORA does have to replenish its reserves as oil quality can deteriorate over time. As a consequence, it effectively trades some stock ...".
What is also interesting is that the Energy Strategy highlights that in the Spring of 2023, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommended that Ireland should "consider the option of a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) as a strategic gas storage asset and a potential back-up for renewable energy". We question the objectivity of this opinion being accorded such prominence in the Energy Strategy, given that around the same time, on March 30th 2023, the IEA  announced that Minister Eamon Ryan is to be lead co-chair of the IEA from 2024.

Over 200 groups from a cross section of Irish and International society had signed an open letter to Minister Ryan in April calling on him to confirm he would not make any LNG U-turn on the current agreed government policy against LNG and the importation of fracked gas to Ireland. Their calls are being ignored. Indeed, in today's press conference, Minister Ryan is quoted as saying "he had flagged 'the State-led strategic store' to his party and to environmental NGOs and there was no issue about it".

This has major implications for New Fortress Energy's proposed Shannon LNG US fracked gas import terminal after irish planning authorities refused development consent because it ran contrary to the country's official government policy against the importation of fracked gas via LNG terminals. Shannon LNG has now appealed this decision to the High Court, where there is now a risk that An Bord Pleanála will agree to remit its decision for further consideration to allow the project go ahead as quickly as possible.

The Minister for Energy, Eamon Ryan, after consultation with Gas Networks Ireland will return to Government for a final decision on the optimal approach to deliver the emergency gas reserve in quarter 2 of 2024 .

However, the Energy Strategy goes on to state that the solution proposed must be in line with the criteria that it must be "a proposal which does not inadvertently increase gas demand by increasing the supply available on the market". This does not rule out a "commercial" LNG terminal along the lines of Shannon LNG because Gas Networks Ireland is not an honest broker as regards Shannon LNG and may play with words to find loopholes for Shannon LNG:
  • Gas Networks Ireland seems to have worked directly for Shannon LNG in drawing up part of the planning application for the fracked gas import terminal in Tarbert, contrary to Government policy,
  • Instead of reducing gas demand in the country, Gas Networks Ireland are expanding the network and boasted of connecting 7,000 new homes to the gas network in the year up to July 2022,
  • Gas Networks Ireland states in its Network Development Plan 2021 that in its "New Towns and Suburbs policy" that "Nenagh, Wexford, Listowel and Ballymahon have recently been connected to the gas network along with a new connection to Center Parcs in Longford. Gas Networks Ireland facilitate further new town connections to increase the penetration of the gas network in Ireland".
  • Gas Networks Ireland also states in its Network Development Plan 2021 that "by 2030 data centres and other large users could consume 23% of Ireland's electricity" but refer to this , not as a gas demand challenge, but rather as "a potential growth sector" where "natural gas can be used for onsite electricity generation".

Minister Eamon Ryan needs to tighten up the criteria and requirements determined by his Department under which Gas Networks Ireland will prepare a detailed proposal to introduce a gas reserve because Gas Networks Ireland has an observed strategy of increasing gas demand in the country. The Energy Strategy currently only outlines 4 criteria - quick implementation, no inadvertent increase in gas demand, cost-effective and compatibility with the 2015 Climate Act. The current criteria are skewed in favour of Shannon LNG - a fact highlighted by a pro-LNG politician who already mentioned the precedent of NORA, even before the Energy Strategy was published (claiming that "There is precedent for the involvement of private operators. An oil storage facility owned by the State through the National Oil Reserve agency, NORA, is operated by the private company Zenith on Whiddy Island") . Allowing an end to the LNG ban is ultimately a political decision in the hands of Minister Eamon Ryan, Leader of the Green Party and Minister for Energy in Ireland.

John McElligott
Safety Before LNG