€1.5 BILLION TO BE SPENT ON IRISH OIL AND GAS FINDS IN NEXT THREE YEARS - About €1.5 billion will be spent on oil and gas exploration around Ireland over the next three years, according to a study by accounting group PwC. 80% of those surveyed said they were optimistic about the chances of discovering oil here but almost two-thirds said the future development of the industry would depend on the licensing and financial terms offered by the Government, writes the Irish Times. Nine out of 10 respondents said the “events” in Corrib, where Shell has been seeking to develop a natural gas field since 1996 against a backdrop of significant local opposition, had done “serious or significant damage” to Ireland’s reputation among international oil and gas companies. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources estimates that there are at least 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent to be found in Irish waters. Just over half of respondent expressed “moderate optimism” in relation to the level of oil yet to be discovered here while 28% said they were “highly or very highly” optimistic about the level of potential reserves. One in five of respondents declared a low level of optimism. Of those surveyed, 43% said they would be recruiting up to five staff each in the next year.
BANK INQUIRY WON'T HEAR EVIDENCE FOR UP TO A YEAR - Taxpayers saddled with €64 billion of bank debt will get a much curtailed inquiry into the banking system collapse in 2008. Public hearings will not take place until next Easter at the earliest, leaving a maximum of one year for the inquiry committee to complete its work and compile a report before the general election due by March 2016, says the Irish Independent. The tight timeframe means the scope of the inquiry by TDs and senators will now be largely confined to the controversial government bank guarantee of September 2008 - which left taxpayers open to liabilities of up to €400 billion at the time. The Taoiseach's pledge that the inquiry would also investigate the role of the banks and their auditors, and the role of the state institutions, cannot be achieved in the current timeframe. There is no question of looking at this Government's handling of the resultant crisis from March 2011 onwards, which many economists have called for. The news comes as the Government was left reeling yesterday by the decision of Independent TD Stephen Donnelly to resign from the committee of inquiry in protest at Government efforts to control the investigation and its outcome.
US PETROLEUM PRODUCTION HITS 44-YEAR HIGH - US production of liquid petroleum is surpassing its previous peak, reached in 1970, in the latest landmark for the country’s shale oil boom. Four decades of decline in US oil output have been reversed in just five years of growth, reports the Financial Times. Petroleum production, including crude oil and related liquids, known as condensate, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) such as ethane, was 11.27m barrels per day in April, almost equalling the peak of 11.3m b/d reached as an average for 1970. Recent growth rates suggest that it has now exceeded that figure. The composition of US production today is not the same as in the early 1970s, in that it has a higher proportion of NGLs, which have a lower energy content and value than crude oil. Crude production of 8.3m b/d in April was still well short of its record high of 10m b/d in November 1970. Even so, the rebound in US output has refuted claims that it was in irreversible long-term decline. Forecasts from the US Energy Information Administration suggest that crude production will also come close to its 1970 peak in the next few years. The US is already the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, taken together, and is one of the top three in terms of oil alone, alongside Russia and Saudi Arabia.
UK PUBLIC WRONGLY BELIEVE RICH PAY MOST IN TAX, NEW RESEARCH SHOWS - The British public dramatically underestimate what the poorest pay in tax and wrongly believe the richest face the biggest tax burden, according to new research that calls for a more progressive system. The poorest 10% of households pay eight percentage points more of their income in all taxes than the richest - 43% compared to 35%, according to a report from the Equality Trust says today's Guardian. The thinktank highlights what it sees as a gulf between perceptions of the tax system and reality. Its poll, conducted with Ipsos Mori, found that nearly seven in ten people believe that households in the highest 10% income group pay more of their income in tax than those in the lowest 10%. The survey of more than 1,000 people also found a strong majority - 96% - believe that the tax system should be more progressive than is currently the case. Duncan Exley, director of the Equality Trust, said the findings underlined the need for the next government to overhaul the system.