Dáil Éireann - Volume 615 - 21 February, 2006
Written Answers. - Fuel Storage Facilities.
Mr. P. Breen Mr. P. Breen
126. Mr. P. Breen asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the full extent to which he envisages storage facilities in respect of gas and oil to be improved with a view to having a reasonable and improved stand-by supply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6650/06]
Ms Burton Ms Burton
 131. Ms Burton asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources his proposals for the development of natural gas storage facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6732/06]
Mr. N. Dempsey Mr. N. Dempsey
Mr. N. Dempsey: I propose to take Questions Nos. 126 and 131 together.
As a member of the IEA, Ireland is required to maintain emergency oil stocks equivalent to at least 90 days of net imports of crude oil equivalent in the previous year. The EU imposes a similar requirement based on consumption. At 1 December 2005 Ireland’s oil stock reserves were estimated at 102 days net imports — IEA methodology.
Since its establishment in 1995, the National Oil Reserves Agency, NORA, has acted as the agent of the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and its function is to arrange for the holding of national strategic oil stocks at a level determined annually by the Minister. Such stocks may be held either at home and-or abroad directly by the agency and-or on its behalf by third parties. Ireland meets its EU and IEA obligations through a combination of: stocks owned and held by NORA, either in Ireland or abroad; stock tickets held by NORA under commercial contracts, in Ireland or abroad, which include an option to purchase the oil in the event of an emergency; and operational stocks held in Ireland by industry-large consumers but not including stocks within the distribution networks which are deemed to be consumed.
As part of Ireland’s emergency oil reserves planning, a number of bilateral oil stockholding agreements have also been concluded with other European Union member states — Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden. Such agreements allow for the storing of Irish oil stocks within these jurisdictions under guarantee by the host country that it would not oppose the transfer of the oil in question to Ireland in the event of an emergency.
All oil stocks, including those held by NORA, are held in commercial tankage either in Ireland or abroad. I am satisfied that Ireland’s emergency stock levels are sufficient to ensure that we would be in a position to participate effectively in any internationally co-ordinated response in the event of an international oil supply disruption, or manage any short-term disruption specifically impacting on the Irish market.
Turning to natural gas, in the context of the all-island energy market development framework, the scope for a common approach on storage and  liquefied natural gas is being progressed jointly in conjunction with both regulatory authorities.
Under the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002, the Commission for Energy Regulation, CER, has the function of licensing natural gas storage facilities. In carrying out its functions, the commission must have regard to the need to ensure that there is sufficient capacity in the natural gas system to enable reasonable expectations of demand to be met; and to secure the continuity, security and quality of supplies of natural gas.
CER is in discussion with Marathon Oil Ireland Limited in relation to the development of natural gas storage facilities at south west Kinsale. CER has recently completed a public consultation on the proposed regulatory regime for the storage facility. A further consultation on a natural gas storage licence will commence shortly. It is planned that the storage facility will be operational by the middle of 2006.
Question No. 127 answered with Question No. 100.
Dáil Éireann 615 Written Answers. Fuel Storage Facilities.