Irish govt mulls LNG imports amid risks to energy security
Ireland's government plans to undertake a review of the security of its natural gas supply in light of Russia's war in Ukraine and soaring energy costs, noting that it would consider developing LNG import capacity as one of the measures to overcome risks to the country's energy security.
The coalition government, which took office in June 2020 and comprises the right-leaning Fianna Fail and Fine Gael parties and the Green party, has opposed the construction of LNG terminals over environmental concerns, leaving projects like New Fortress Energy's Shannon LNG project in limbo. However, a surge in gas costs and the threat of Russia cutting off supply to Europe has prompted a number of European governments to back more LNG import capacity, to safeguard their energy security.
Natural gas accounts for over a third of Ireland's primary energy mix, and three-quarters of the supply comes via a single pipeline from the UK. The remainder is sourced from the Corrib field off Ireland's east coast, but its production is in decline.
The Irish government unveiled a new National Energy Security Framework on April 13, aimed at providing "an overarching and comprehensive response to Ireland's energy security needs in the context of the war in Ukraine."
"While the supply of natural gas required to meet Ireland's energy needs has not, to date, been impacted by the war in Ukraine, there are security of supply risks," the government said in the framework. "Ireland's high dependence on imports from a single source in the UK, along with the high and growing reliance of the electricity system on natural gas supplies, has necessitated a review of security of supply."
The review, which will be carried out by the department of the environment, climate and communications, "is considering the risks to both natural gas and electricity supplies, and a range of measures including the need for additional capacity to import energy (such as LNG)." The review will also look at energy storage, fuel diversification and renewable gases, such as hydrogen. It is due to be completed by the third quarter of this year.
The government has also announced measures to ease the burden of high energy costs on consumers, as well as expand the use of renewables, produce more biomethane and hydrogen, increase energy efficiency and reduce reliance on Russian oil and petroleum products. However, it made no mention of stepping up domestic natural gas supply.
A year ago the government banned licences for natural gas exploration, following the former Fine Gael government's ending of the issue of oil licences in 2019.