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The Dunquin Oil Giveaway and the Blaskets
Brian Guerin 

The exclusive licence granted by the Government to explore and exploit the extensive gas and oil fields to Providence Resources and a Scottish based company, Sosina Exploration, for the deepwater Dunquin oil and gas exploration prospect, commenced in February 15th 2004. [1] Initial testing has indicated extensive gas and oil deposits at two locations: Dunquin North and South.  The areas together are approximately 200 kilometres off the Blasket Islands the prospect itself lying in 1600 metres of water. [2]

Providence is 45% owned by Tony O’ Reilly, proprietor of Irish Independent Newspapers (INN), granting him a 7.2% stake in the Dunquin venture, which could be worth up to ¤20 billion. His son, Tony O’ Reilly Jnr., is Chief Executive of the exploration company. Providence Resources has estimated that Dunquin potentially contains 25 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and over 4 million barrels of oil. This is a large find, by any comparable international standard. [3]

In February 2006, Providence and Sosina signed a farm-out agreement with Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company. The terms of the farm-out agreement provide for Exxon Mobil to conduct the substantial exploration work on the prospect, in return for 80% ownership of the Dunquin Prospect. Providence therefore retains a 16% interest and Sosina a 4% interest respectively. This assignment of the interest to Exxon Mobil is subject to Irish Government approval. [4]
Tony O’Reilly Junior stated in a press release that “Partnering with Exxon Mobil to open up a potential new hydrocarbon province is enormously exciting and heralds a new era for offshore Ireland. We applied for the Dunquin licence in the belief that the geology indicated a very serious prospect." The chief executive of Exxon Mobil also (justifiably) expressed his elation: "Dunquin is a welcome addition to ExxonMobil's large and growing portfolio of deepwater acreage," said Tim Cejka, President of ExxonMobil Exploration Company. "This prospect covers a large and unexplored area that will take several years to fully evaluate. We look forward to working with our co-venture partners to apply the latest evaluation technology to determine its ultimate resource potential." [5] [6] [7] [8]
The Government, acting through Minister Noel Dempsey, welcomed the signing of the agreement, citing the new ‘security of supply’ for oil and gas, he stated: 'The Porcupine area is one of the most potentially promising areas off Ireland's coast and I am pleased that this agreement will lead to its further exploration', the Minister said.

'The discovery of either gas or oil, in this area would be of benefit to Ireland. If the recent crisis in Russia has shown us anything it is that security and access to indigenous sources of energy are vital for our national interests,' he added. [9]
The Providence licences were issued in February 2004, by the aforementioned Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, Noel Dempsey. The first of these new Frontier Exploration Licences contains two exciting
discoveries - a large gas condensate field known as 'Spanish Point' (IRL35/8-2),
as well as a tested oil discovery known as 'Burren' (IRL35/8-1). The 'Spanish
Point' discovery was made by Phillips Petroleum in 1981. Post-well analysis by
Phillips indicated that the structure could contain up to 1.1 TCF (Trillion
Cubic Feet) of gas and 112 MMBO (Millions of Barrels of Oil) recoverable.

The second licence is located in the South Porcupine Basin and contains a
super-giant deepwater exploration target termed 'Dunquin'. The presence of
hydrocarbons at 'Dunquin' has been indicated both from seismic soundings directly over the prospect as well as from seabed gravity cores overlying the structure.
It is noteworthy that, when compared with 'Spanish Point', Shell's recently
announced 'Corrib' field development, situated in a similar water depth and
distance from onshore gas infrastructure, is thought to contain a comparable
-1.0 TCF of recoverable gas. [10]
To return to the Dunquin field, Exxon-Mobil would seem to be at a slight disadvantage, in that they have what is known as a “carried interest” in the licence, meaning that it bears all the costs in return for the 80% stake. However, under the current (1992) licensing arrangements, the oil companies have effective ownership of any oil and gas that they locate. The State gives up its ownership rights with the oil corporations simply paying 25% tax on their profits. However, before they pay a cent, they can write off all exploration and development costs, and the estimated costs of closing down the wells themselves, when that is done at some unspecified point in the future. It has been estimated that many finds will be at least half depleted before the State can claim any tax revenue. This would seem to be a challenge to the very concept of national sovereignty itself: the right of a country to tax its own resources. It has to be emphasized that there is no obligation upon oil/gas corporations to land Irish resources in Ireland. The oil/gas can be directly piped into tankers and shipped to the UK or US. Exxon-Mobil, therefore, are effectively acquiring a potentially huge block of gas and oil resources at a knock-down price.
Providence Resources here have simply acted as a facilitator for Exxon-Mobil, playing the role of the entrepreneur, and gaining the vital concession from the Irish government, while the large US corporations waited in the wings.

The Exxon-Mobil Group is the largest non-state owned corporation and the biggest oil corporation in the world. [11] It was formed through the merger of the Exxon Corporation (so-named in 1972), and Mobil Oil Corporation, though both companies enjoyed extensive connections throughout their respective histories. Last year, profits reached net profits of $36.1 billion, or $33.9 billion excluding special items. That is, $1,146 dollars a second. [12] [13] [14] Exxon-Mobil has extensive connections with Shell Oil in the UK, in the area of joint ventures in exploration, with Shell as the direct operator, while Exxon remains in the background. [15]
Exxon began as Standard Oil in 1870. It was founded by John D. Rockfeller and associates. By 1878 it controlled 95% of US oil refining capacity. In 1882 the Standard Oil Trust was formed. It was the first trust ever created and was developed to circumvent Ohio laws restricting ownership out of state companies. In 1890 the Sherman Antitrust Act was passed in response to Standard’s monopoly. In 1911 the US Supreme Court broke up the Standard Oil trust into 34 different companies. However, the ownership group remained as before. Two of the companies were Jersey Standard and Socony, (New York), the chief predecessors of Exxon and Mobil, respectively. They then proceeded to expand their world-wide interests. Others were Standard Oil of California (Chevron), Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio), Standard Oil of Indiana (Amoco), Continental Oil (Conoco), and Atlantic Oil (ARCO).

By 1941 Standard Oil of New jersey was the largest oil company in the woreld, controlling 84% of the US petroleum market. (Thistle: The Thistle: Volume 13, Number 2: Dec., 2000/Jan., 2001.  [16] Its bank was Chase and its owners were the Rockfellers. J.D. Rockfeller always argued that two things were essential to the survival of the oil industry: checking “ruinous competition” and “cooperation.” After the Rockfellers, the next largest stockholder in Standard Oil was I.G. Farben, the German chemical cartel. This investment was part of reciprocal investments between the U.S. and Germany during the Nazi years. Huge investments were made in Germany during the Great Depression. (Ibid). I.G. Farben, so central to the German Final Solution, as well as the vast Nazi expansion into Western and Eastern Europe, built I.G. Auschwitz, a huge industrial complex designed to produce synthetic rubber and oil. This installation used as much electricity as the entire city of Berlin, and more than 25,000 inmates died during its construction. I.G. Farben eventually built its own concentration camp, known as Monowitz, closer to the complex than Auschwitz, in order to dispence with the daily march of prisoners to and from the facility every day. [17]

This was the company enthusiastically embraced by Standard Oil and other major US corporations such as Du Pont and General Motors. Without the explicit assistance of Standard Oil, the Nazi airforce would never have left the ground. The planes that made up the Luftwaffe needed tetraethyl lead gasoline in order to fly. At that time, only Standard Oil, Du Pont and GM had the technical ability to produce this substance. In 1938, Walterr C. Teagle, then president of Standard Oil, helped Hermann Schmitz of I.G. Farben to acquire 500 tons of tetraethyl lead from Ethyl, a British Standard subsidiary. A year later Schmitz returned to London and obtained an additional 15 million dollars worth of tetraethyl lead, to be converted into aviation gasoline back in Germany. After the war started in Europe, Standard Oil changed the registration of their entire fleet to Panamania to avoid seizure. These ships continued to carry oil to Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where they refueled and siphoned oil to German tankers for shipment to Hamburg. This was exposed on March 31st 1939, when the US State Department issued a detailed report on refueling stations in Mexico and Central and South America that were suspected of furnishing oil to German and Italian merchant vessels. The report listed Standard Oil of New Jersey and California as among the culprits, but there is no record of any action taken as a result of this discovery. [18]

In 1999, when Exxon (formerly Standard Oil of New Jersey) bought Mobil (formerly Standard Oil of New York) to create Exxon-Mobil, they formed the world’s largest oil corporation (ahead of Royal Dutch/Shell), and the 4th largest US company in terms of sales (behind GM, Ford (both intense Nazi collaborators) and Wal-Mart of Arkansas. In their previous incarnations, Exxon and Mobil accounted for over half of the total value of the Standard Oil Trust dissolved in 1911 (Amoco, another offshoot of Standard Oil, was recently purchased by British Petroleum, whose US assets are largely derived from its absorption of yet another Standard Oil offspring, Sohio). [19]

These giant oil companies have a long and distinguished history of abusing the human rights of the indigenous peoples on whose land they drill for oil as well as a total contempt for the environment. Exxon-Mobil has often used helicopters to harass communities in Peru and elsewhere around the world. For example, Exxon-Mobil is part of an international consortium, along with Shell and the French oil company ELF, that is planning a multi-billion dollar exploitation project in the African nations of Chad and Cameroon; this project presents serious environmental and social hazards. This project consists of the development of oil fields in Southern Chad and the construction of a 600-mile pipeline through Cameroon for export, and is supported by public funding from the World Bank. This pipeline will pass through ecologically fragile rainforest areas, including an area that is the home of a Pygmy minority of traditional hunters and gatherers. As a direct result of the project, deforestation, wildlife poaching, and the loss of farmland will accelerate, creating a destructive environmental legacy. The pipeline poses a danger of groundwater contamination and pollution of important regional river systems, as crude oil containing heavy metals leaks into the environment. [20]

Chevron, (formerly Standard Oil of California), which is the third largest US oil conglomerate (behind Exxon-Mobil and Texaco), and which has one of the worst records in recent times in terms of human rights abuses. One example is in the Nigerian Delta. Nigeria is the 6th largest oil-producing nation in the world, but few in the Niger Delta share in the profits. Many communities have no electricity, clean water or medical clinics, and suffer ill effects from oil pollution. The explosion of a gas pipeline in Nigeria’s oil-producing region in October 1998 killed more than 700 people, sparking widespread resistance which succeeded in closing down more than a third of Nigeria’s oil production. This elicited a counter-insurgency campaign in which Chevron were directly involved. On May 28th 1998, Chevron facilitated an attack by the notorious Nigerian Navy and death-squad Mobile Police on an unarmed group of people from a delta village known as Illajeland occupying one of Chevron’s offshore drilling facilities. Among their demands were clean drinking water, electricity, environmental reparations, employment and scholarships for young people. [21]

After occupying the facility for three days, the villagers were awaiting Chevron’s response to their demands when helicopters landed with soldiers firing tear gas and bullets. The Nigerian military shot two protestors dead; Jola Ogungbeje and Aroleka Irowaninu, critically wounded a third man, Larry Bowato, and injured as many as thirty others. Chevron directly facilitated this attack by transporting the Nigerian soldiers / Mobile Police in company helicopters.
In addition, Chevron’s acting head of security in Nigeria, James Neku, flew with the military to the installation on the day of the attack. [22] [23] [24] [25]

There are many such examples across the world. These attacks are carried out primarily against defenceless indigenous peoples.

Dunquin Oil Giveaway Part II

© The Tara Foundation, 2006


[2] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Ibid.
[20] Ibid.
[21] Ibid.