The Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, has obtained Cabinet approval to introduce legislation to ban licences for new oil and natural gas exploration. The legislation will be included in the Climate Action and Low Carbon Amendment Bill which will go before the Oireachtas shortly.
Today's decision will ensure legislative effect is given to the commitment in the Programme for Government to end the issuing of new licences for the exploration and extraction of gas, on the same basis as the 2019 decision in relation to oil exploration and extraction. The Minister gave effect to this commitment immediately, the Department no longer accepts new applications for exploration licences for natural gas or oil, nor will there be any future licensing rounds. The legislation will involve amendments to the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960, which is the legislation governing the issuing of petroleum authorisations in the Irish offshore.
Minister Ryan commented:
"The decision we have made today to legislate for a ban on new oil exploration and extraction will send a powerful message, within Ireland and internationally, that Ireland is moving away from fossil fuels towards a renewable future. By keeping fossil fuels in the ground, we will incentivise the transition to renewable energy and put ourselves on a pathway to net zero by 2050. The previously announced prohibition on exploration for oil has had a welcome impact in terms of the numbers of existing authorisations that have been relinquished. I expect this number to reduce further in the period ahead given the increasingly challenging global investment environment for fossil fuels."
The legislative amendments will not affect existing authorisations, with applications for authorisations and activities remaining subject to technical, financial and environmental assessments as appropriate.