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An oil find in Irish waters in May this year has been virtually ignored by the Irish media. Serica Energy plc, in partnership with RWE, the German utility, made the discovery while drilling for gas in the Slyne basin, off Mayo. This find is heralded as the first discovery of oil in Irish waters in 28 years.

Oil lakes and gas have been known to exist in Irish waters for the last decade and more, but at depths too deep for recovery at that time. The technology to exploit these deepwater natural resources now exists. Has our government gambled NAMA on exploitation of these resources?

The Norwegian government ensured that the Norwegian people would participate in, and profit from, the riches of an oil find. Since 1996, every krone the Norwegian government earns from oil has gone into a savings fund to guarantee the future well-being of Norway's 4.8 million citizens. The fund now totals some โ‚ฌ260 billion. Norway has other energy investments - the Norwegians own 25.5% of the gas from the Irish Corrib field - that is 25.5% more than the Irish people own. It is to be hoped that the Irish government will have the Irish citizens' best interests at heart in the negotiation of the new round of exploration licences.

This cannot be taken for granted. We could be one of the wealthiest countries in Europe if the government deals in the interests of the Irish as a people, and not just in the interests of a chosen few.

Norway has extracted 30 billion barrels of oil to date. The average price per barrel in 2009 is $60. Experts in 1991 described Ireland's deepwater province as directly comparable with the successful and geologically similar fields of Foinaven, Schiehallion and the Stronsay fields of the West Shetland region in UK waters. It may also be comparable to Norway.

Why have companies like Enterprise Oil, Marathon, Statoil (the Norwegian State owned company), Agip/Elf, Arco, Murphy Ireland Offshore Limited etc retained Irish frontier licences up to 2013 and 2014? They were biding their time until North Sea resources dwindled and deepwater exploration in Ireland would become more attractive. The successful use of a submersible drilling rig for the first time in Irish waters has shown that the oil companies were wise to stick around. Now we must ask - has the government been as wise as the Norwegians on behalf of the Irish citizens?

Serica plc has said it is likely to want to bid for the acreage adjoining its find when the Irish government tenders new licences beginning March 2010. Mr Ellis said "Serica's 600sq.m. licence area contains several prospects and we shall now be evaluating them as potential drilling targets. Although much more work needs to be done before the commercial potential of the discovery and the rest of the licence can be established, the Bandon oil discovery could mark the beginning of an exciting phase of Irish exploration." (Reuters 9 June).

Serica plc shares rose 12% on announcement of the find. Serica reported at its shareholders meeting in London on 28 August that it had already been awarded a new licence in the Rockall Basin.

Last month, ExxonMobil and other shareholders (including Sir Anthony O'Reilly's Providence Resources) in the Dunquin oil and gas block indicated that they will drill an exploration well there. Davy Stockbrokers noted (12 August) that existing seismic data on the Dunquin block indicates the presence of two deep water exploration targets potentially holding trillions of cubic feet of gas. The licence partners have informed the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources that they will pursue the second phase of their licence, which will expire in four years. Shares in Providence Resources' rose over 10.5% on the announcement.

Norway is a member of the single market, but it remains outside it where its fisheries, agriculture and oil are concerned. Norwegians remain unconvinced that Norway would retain control of their natural resources, or that they would be preserved, in the EU.

It has never been more important that we keep control of our natural resources. If we accept the Lisbon Treaty, Member States will not be permitted to act individually on energy matters (Articles 2.2, 4 TFEU).

The Lisbon Treaty would transfer control of national energy policy from the Member States to the EU. Where energy supply difficulties might arise in the Member States, the Council may decide appropriate measures. Articles 122 and 194 TFEU would enable the EU's move towards a harmonised common energy policy.

We must say No to the Lisbon Treaty, so that we can determine the future exploration of our gas and oil, and do so on OUR terms.