While making a documentary called ‘The Pipe’ (supported by TG4 and IFB) on the community at the centre of the Corrib Gas controversy, I began to delve into the wider story behind Ireland’s Oil & Gas. Why would a small sovereign State put all its resources, both security, legal and political, at the behest of the worlds most powerful oil companies? Why was there very little appetite among the mainstream media to delve into depth on the story of Ireland's Oil & Gas?
Over the next few years, I talked to many people and built up a huge bank of research, but could not get any support from broadcasters or other funding bodies. To me, the story of how we, as a country, effectively privatised our offshore with very little return to the State appeared illogical. The more I looked into this, the more curious and skeptical I became, and began to realise that it was quite likely that there was a potentially huge resource off our shores, and that the political context under which these deals were done was highly questionable.
The aim of this documentary is to delve deep into the politics of the oil & gas industry, seeking answers as to why Justin Keating's 1975 ‘Norwegian style’ terms were dismantled by Ray Burke and Bertie Ahern, and if there is any link between the awarding of exploration licences for political favours in the 1990s. Looking at combined results of past drilling programmes and current activity, my aim is to set out a realistic picture of what is happening, and what's to come for the Irish Offshore.
Over the next 4 months, I will spend time with different communities who will be affected by upcoming developments, from a fisherman in west Kerry to a farmer in Leitrim, from a former rig worker to an oil man, and find out what this new energy race will mean for them and their communities. We balance the economic with the social and environmental costs and ask the questions – in whose interest is this sudden push to open up the Irish Offshore?
Exxon Mobil and other major oil companies will have rigs off the Irish coast this drilling season and if the story is not told in the next year, it will be too late. I envisage completion of the film in the second half of 2014, with further support for post production and shooting outside of Ireland.
Following its premiere, where we would like to have as many funders as possible attend, we will take the film to every town and village in the country, with accompanying discussions and debates. Here again we would like people to become very involved and to be advocates for the issues raised in the film, be it to speak at the many events planned alongside the screenings or facilitate the distribution of the film in various ways.