Natural resources of Ireland

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The primary natural resources of Ireland include natural gas, petroleum, peat, copper, lead, dolomite, barite, limestone, gypsum, silver and some zinc. Key industries based on these and other natural resources include fishing, foresting, mining, livestock, and other forms of agriculture and fish farming.

Peat has been Ireland's staple fuel for centuries and still provides about 12% of the island's energy needs. Bord na Móna ("Peat Board") extracts more than 4 million tonnes of peat annually.[citation needed]

Ireland's experience with state-sponsored renewable energy projects stretches back to 1925, and the Ardnacrusha project. Other new and renewable energy projects include other hydroelectric, solar, and wind power initiatives. One of the country's first wind farms was created in 1992 at Bellacorick in County Mayo.

Main article: Economy of Ireland


Farming (including livestock rearing, dairy products, cereals, potatoes), is a key economic contributor. Agriculture remains an important economic factor in Ireland. In 2004, the Republic of Ireland exported approximately €7.15 billion worth of agri-food and drink (about 8.4% of its exports), mainly as cattle, beef, and dairy products, and mainly to the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland).[1] Agriculture products consist of turnips, barley, potatoes, sugar beets, wheat, beef, and dairy products.

Primary raw material industries include: steel, lead, zinc, silver, aluminium, barite, and gypsum mining processing. Although heavy industry centres around key cities such as Belfast, Dublin, Cork, and other important port cities. Machinery and equipment manufacturing, food processing, and textile and electronics manufacturing are the leading industries of Ireland. Among those are also included paper making, furniture manufacturing, and shipbuilding. Northern Ireland is historically noted for its linen manufacture.


For many years, Ireland has been noted for being one of the best fishing destinations in Europe.[2] Ireland is an island nation that has extensive fishing grounds in its territorial seas and waters, part of which are protected from overfishing by the Irish Conservation Box.

In addition, Ireland has almost 14,000 kilometres of rivers that bear fish, along with numerous lakes. The freshwater lakes of the country provide an area of 357,000 square kilometres, providing a habitat for considerable fish life. (County Cavan alone boasts some 365 lakes.)

Some of the native species are char, eel, Brown trout, perch, pike, pollan, and roach. Ireland's mild climate is favourable for fishing. The North Atlantic Drift warms the waters off the islands on the west coast so that the channels support both warm and cold water fish. In total, there are 64 types of fish and shellfish off the coast of Ireland. These include: Basking Shark, Blue Shark, Butterfish, Cod, Common Dogfish, common skate, Conger Eel, Greater Pipefish, Greater Sandeel, Mackerel, Lesser Sandeel, Lesser Weever, Lumpsucker, Pike, Plaice, Porbeagle Shark, Rainbow Trout, Roach, Tench, Tompot blenny, Tope.


Ireland's mining companies include the Anglo American plc, Arcon International Resources plc, Boliden Mineral AB, Conroy Diamonds and Gold P.l.c., Hereward Ventures plc, Mino Mining & Metals Corporation, Minco plc, and Strongbow Resources Ltd.[3]

  • The Anglo-American plc is a mining and natural resources company. It is interested in significant and important gold, platinum, diamonds, coal, base and ferrous metals, industrial minerals and forest products.[4]
  • Arcon is an Irish registered mineral and mining exploration organisation. It manages the Galmoy Zinc Mine, carrying out foregoing mineral exploration activities.[5] Galmoy is now run by the Swedish owned company Lundin.
  • New Boliden is a mining and smelting company with operations in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Ireland. Boliden's main minerals are copper, zinc, lead, gold and silver. They have more than 4,500 employees globally, and a turnover of approximately EUR 2 billion annually.[6]
  • Conroy Diamonds and Gold was established in 1995 to exploit the discovery of the Galmoy Ore deposits – now in production as a major zinc mine. Its current activities are on a geological structure known as the Longford-Down Massif.[7]
  • Hereward Ventures plc is focused on the exploration of gold in Bulgaria, and base-land minerals in Ireland.[8]
  • Minco Mining & Metals Corporation engages in the acquisition, search and development of base and precious metal properties.[9]
  • Minco plc, which is an active zinc explorer, focusing on Pallas Green in Limerick where excavation shows some zinc mineralisation.[10]

Shell and the Corrib Gas Field[edit]

The Corrib gas project (Irish: Tionscanamh Ghás Aiceanta na Coiribe.) entails the extraction of a natural gas deposit off the northwest coast of Ireland. The project includes a development of the Corrib gas field, and constructions of the natural gas pipeline and a gas processing plant. The project has attracted considerable opposition.


The deepwater exploration licence No. 2/93 covering four blocks in the Slyne Trough was granted on 1 January 1993 for a period of 11 years to Enterprise Oil and its partners Saga Petroleum Ireland Limited, Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Limited, and Marathon International Petroleum Hibernia Limited. The licence was issued under the licensing terms for offshore oil and gas exploration and development 1992.[11] The Corrib natural gas field was discovered in 1996. It was the first reported commercial natural gas discovery in Ireland since the Kinsale Head gas field was discovered in 1973.[12] The first appraisal well was drilled in 1997.[13] A number of consents and approvals to develop the Corrib Project were issued in 2001.[14]

In 2002, Enterprise Oil was acquired by Royal Dutch Shell who took over the operatorship of the project. Development of the project began in 2004, but it was delayed in 2005 when locals opposed the project.[13] Shell announced the suspension of the project to facilitate further discussions with opposing parties. For a year, independent safety reviews were conducted to address various safety concerns in relation to the project.

In 1999, Saga Petroleum became a part of Norsk Hydro and in 2007 a part of Statoil. In July 2009, Vermilion Energy acquired Marathon Oil's stake in the project.[15]


Royal Dutch Shell proposed to develop the Corrib field as a sub-sea production facility with onshore processing. This method of development is claimed by Shell to be in line with best industry practice for gas fields of this type. The project includes development of offshore operations including the wells and subsea facilities, construction of offshore and onshore pipelines, and construction of onshore processing plant at Bellanaboy.[16]

Gas field[edit]

The Corrib gas field is located about 83 kilometres (52 mi) off Erris Head in County Mayo in an area known as the Slyne Trough in water depths of 355 metres (1,165 ft).[16] The gas is originating from Triassic Sandstone reservoir 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) below the seabed. Reserves in the field are believed to be about 1 trillion cubic feet (28×109 m3), 70% the volume of the Kinsale field.[14] The natural gas in the Corrib Gas Field is a very pure form of gas, consisting of approximately 97% methane and ethane.[17] The Corrib gas does not contain hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide makes up only 0.3% of the total amount of gas.

The subsea production system is delivered by ABB. Production at the gas field will be remotely controlled from the Bellanaboy Bridge terminal. There are five production wells at the Corrib field drilled by Transocean Sedco 711 semi-submersible drilling rig. When in operation, each well is planned to have a so-called "christmas tree" structure above it that contains all control and monitoring equipment. Flexible individual flowlines will run from each well to a production manifold which will feed the gas into the main pipeline.[12] There is no production platform installed in the field.


The pipeline from the Corrib field to the landfall at Glengad is planned to be approximately 83 kilometres (52 mi) in length.[16] The pipeline has a diameter of 20 inches (510 mm) and it will operate at pressures of 90–110 bars (9,000–11,000 kPa).[12] Work on the offshore section occurred in summer 2009 and involved over 7,000 lengths of pipe being welded together on board the Solitaire pipelaying vessel.[18] The onshore pipeline is still in the proposal phase but is expected to be some 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) in length and run from landfall to the drying plant.

Processing plant[edit]

Gas will be processed at the processing plant 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) inland near Bellanaboy Bridge. The purpose of the plant is to dry the gas and remove impurities. The plant has a capacity of 10 million standard cubic metres of purified gas per day. Processed gas will be fed to the Bord Gáis gas grid.[16]

The piping for the Onshore Processing Plant is manufactured by Phoenix Pipes Limited in Slane Co.Meath.


Shell E&P Ireland is the operator of the project. The company holds 45% of equity. Other partners are Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Limited (36.5%), and the Vermilion Energy Trust (18.5% of equity).[13]


Some opponents of the scheme cite concerns about the health, safety and environmental impact of the onshore aspects of the project. Others are concerned with alleged irregularities and precedents surrounding the project. Many groups, most notably the Rossport Five and Shell to Sea campaigns, oppose the current plans for the project, which they regard as dangerous despite assurances from Shell.[19] A contrary position is taken by the group Pro Gas Mayo – a group that holds no public meetings and has only three members.[20] It is not known who funds this group.[21]

The upstream high pressure gas pipeline that will connect the wells to the inland processing site is planned to run through the area of Rossport, close to local residences. A report by Dr. Richard Kupriewicz concluded that "the terrain makes escape routes for the clustered population essentially impossible in the event of a [pipeline] rupture".

Discharges from drying process[edit]

Broadhaven Bay is the proposed area to discharge toxic waste from the refining process. Due to the bay's circular tidal pattern and semi-enclosed nature this toxic waste is more likely to stay within the bay rather than be washed out to sea.[citation needed]

Alleged violation of due process[edit]

Planning permission was initially refused by Senior Planning Inspector Kevin Moore, of An Bord Pleanála (the Irish planning authority). His report stated in part: "[I]t is my submission that the proposed development of a large gas processing terminal at this rural, scenic, and unserviced area on a bogland hill some 8 kilometres inland from the Mayo coastland landfall location, with all its site development works difficulties, public safety concerns, adverse visual, ecological, and traffic impacts, and a range of other significant environmental impacts, defies any rational understanding of the term "sustainability"." In November 2009, An Bord Pleanála ordered Shell to redesign the pipeline and move its route away from homes saying it posed an "unacceptable risk".


Claims of a tax yield of some €1.7 billion over the life of the field have been made by the Irish government based on data about the field's size and 2008 gas prices.[22] Up to 2007, the Irish Petroleum Licensing Terms imposed a flat 25% income tax on gas production revenues. In August 2007, the top rate of tax on the most profitable fields was increased to 40%.[23][24] The new licensing terms called for changes to the tax imposed based upon fields ' profit ratios (equal to the rate of profit less 25% divided by the accumulated level of capital investment). Where this ratio is greater than 4.5, an additional 15% tax was imposed, where it is between 3.0 and 4.5 an additional 10% was imposed and where the profit ratio is between 1.5 and 3.0, and additional 5% tax was added. However, opponents of the project claim that a new tax regime should apply, given Ireland's current economic difficulties. Additionally, they cite the poor contribution that the project, as presently constituted, gives to the Irish economy – a mere 55 permanment jobs.[25]

Further Oil Finds[edit]

An Irish oil exploration company called Providence Resources announced in July 2012 that it had discovered between 1 billion and 1.6 billion barrels of oil at the Barryroe oil well, which is situated 70 km from the coast of County Cork.[26] Providence revised the amount of oil obtainable to 280 million barrels later on in the year, but the revenue from the oil could still run into the billions of euro.[27]

Legislation affecting natural resource management[edit]

Wildlife Act of 1976[edit]

The Wildlife act of 1976 was an act that would protect certain wildlife (including game) and flora. Under its terms, the "Wildlife Advisory Council" was also established – known officially in the Irish language as "An Chomhairle Fhiadhulra". The functions of this body included the establishment and maintenance of reserves and refuges for wildlife, the ongoing protection of breeding grounds, herd management, migration, etc. It would also make certain provisions relating to land, inland waters and the territorial waters of the state.[28]

This act was followed by the "Wildlife Advisory Council Order" on 13 March 1978, the "Wildlife Act, 1976 (Protection of Wild Animals) Regulations" on 10 September 1980, the "Wildlife Act, 1976 (Acquisition of Land) Regulations" on 6 February 1978, and others.

The Act has been amended several times, first by the "European Communities (Wildlife Act, 1976) (Amendment) Regulations, 1985", which sought to manage, conserve, and protect birds. The second amendment was the "European Communities (Wildlife Act, 1976) (Amendment) Regulations, 1986", which added the control of species of wild bird which may cause damage or injury to specified interests. The most recent was the "Wildlife (Amendment) Act, 2000 (Act No. 38 of 2000)", which provided statutory protection for Natural Heritage Areas as well as legislation relating to the management and conservation of forests, including the hunting and capture of birds in protected forests.

Forestry Act of 1988[edit]

The Forestry Act of 13 July 1988, would make provisions for the enlargement of forestry in the state, and provided the establishment of a company – later named Coillte Teoranta – which would be mandated with the management of state owned forests, and with providing grant aid to commercial and privately owned forest farming and planted woodland.[29] It was amended on 15 August 2000.

Sea Pollution Act of 1991[edit]

Originally constituted on 11 August 1959, the Sea Pollution Act:

  1. set out to prevent the pollution of the sea by oil and other substances; it gave effect to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships;
  2. would give effect to the Protocol concerning intervention on the high seas in cases of pollution by substances other than oil (Intervention Protocol);
  3. provided for the repeal of the Oil Pollution of the Sea Acts, 1956 to 1977; and
  4. provided for other matters related.[30]

Also included was the maintenance of marine pollution (also with shipped based sources), oil pollution, and waste water.

Protection of the Environment Act of 2003[edit]

The Protection of the Environment act of 14 July 2003, was enacted to provide for the Execution of Directive 96/61/EC (dated 24 September 1996) of the Council of the European Communities concerning integrated pollution prevention and control and certain other acts adopted by the institutions of the EU. It also amended the Environmental Protection Agency Act of 1992 and the Waste Management Act of 1996, the Litter Pollution Act 1997 and to provide for foregoing matters.[10]

It basically sought to prevent water pollution and protect land and soil quality. The act came from Environmental Protection Agency Act, 1992. of 1996, Waste Management Act, 1996. on 20 May 1996, Planning And Development Act, 2000 (Act No. 30 of 2000). on 28 August 2000, European Communities (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Amendment) Regulations, 1994. on 13 April 1994.

Fishery (Amendment) Act of 2002[edit]

The Fishery (amendment) Act of 2002, sought to modify and extend the Fisheries (Amendment) Act of 1997; to confirm fees payable to the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources in respect of certain fish culture and aquaculture licenses and for relative purposes.[31] It was originally dated as 27 November 2001.

Fishery (amendment) Act of 2003[edit]

A more detailed act followed in 2003, and sought to support the United Nations Agreement on the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on The Law of The Sea on 10 December 1982. This relates to the Conservation and Management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks; to provide for an independent appeals system in relative to the licensing of sea-fishing boats, to amend and extend the Foreshore Act of 1933, the Fisheries Acts 1959 to 2001 and the Merchant Shipping (Certification of Seamen) Act of 1979, and to provide for foregoing matters.[32]


  1. ^ Bord Bia (March 2005). Agri-Food Sector – Factsheet Irish Food Board. Retrieved 8 August 2006.
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ [3][dead link]
  5. ^ [4][dead link]
  6. ^ [5][dead link]
  7. ^ [6][dead link]
  8. ^ [7][dead link]
  9. ^ [8][dead link]
  10. ^ [9][dead link]
  11. ^ Dáil Éireann – Volume 509 – 20 October, 1999 – Written Answers. – Offshore Exploration.
  12. ^ a b c Corrib Gas Field. Offshore Technology (15 June 2011).
  13. ^ a b c Corrib Gas Field Development – Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  14. ^ a b Offshore Field Development Projects. SubSeaIQ.
  15. ^ Irish Minister Marks Vermilion's Entry into Corrib Gas Devt. Rigzone.
  16. ^ a b c d Shell Corrib Gas Field. Hydrocarbons Technology (15 June 2011).
  17. ^ What's In The Gas?. Corrib Gas Pipeline.
  18. ^ Times Store.
  19. ^ Pipe Down on Vimeo. (11 January 2010).
  20. ^ Shell quarries vandalised. (13 November 2007).
  21. ^ Pro Gas Mayo Group. SourceWatch (26 June 2008).
  22. ^ closing of the Sale of Marathon’s Corrib Gas Field Shareholding – Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  23. ^ Government announces new round of licensing for oil and gas exploration under new licensing terms – Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
  24. ^
  25. ^ Shell is ordered to re-route 'risky' Corrib gas pipeline. (4 November 2009).
  26. ^ "Providence Resources finds 'more than 1bn barrels of oil' off Irish coast". BBC News. 25 July 2012. 
  27. ^ Andy Martin (10 October 2012). "Ireland 'close to oil billions'". BBC. 
  28. ^ "FAOLEX". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  29. ^ "FAOLEX". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  30. ^ "FAOLEX". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  31. ^ "FAOLEX". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 
  32. ^ "FAOLEX". Retrieved 2014-02-26. 

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