For Oral Answer on : 20/09/2022
Question Number(s): 63 Question Reference(s): 45773/22
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
[Ref No.: 45773/22]
To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications further to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 24 May 2022, the role of his Department in the decommissioning of the Kinsale and Seven Heads gas fields; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – David Stanton.
For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 20th September, 2022.
(60 Received on 13th September, 2022.)
The Geoscience Regulation Office in my Department is responsible for the regulation of petroleum exploration and development in Ireland. Petroleum authorisations are issued under the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act 1960-2021 and include decommissioning operations of petroleum facilities. Decommissioning of petroleum facilities is subject to regulatory and environmental approval by the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications.
Holders of petroleum authorisations are required to submit a detailed decommissioning plan to my Department, detailing how they will safely decommission the facilities with minimal impact on the environment. This plan is assessed and approved in line with international best practice. As part of the process, my Department engages independent specialist advice and liaises with relevant regulators such as the Commission for Regulation of Utilities, the Irish Coastguard and the Health and Safety Authority.
Two applications for decommissioning phases of the Kinsale Area Gas Fields were granted by my Department on 26 April 2019 and 26 February 2020 for plugging and abandoning of wells, the removal of the two platform topsides structures, the removal of the Kinsale Alpha and Kinsale Bravo platform sub-structures and all associated works.
An application for the next phase of decommissioning was received in October 2021. Public consultation on this application was held from 14 October 2021 to 17 November 2021. In July 2022, my Department completed environmental assessment of the application and it returned to the Geoscience Regulation Office to make a recommendation on whether Ministerial approval should be given for the activities under application.