The chief executive of the Irish Offshore Operators Association has welcomed the Government's clarification that a plan to phase out oil exploration in Irish waters relates only to future exploration licences.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mandy Johnston said it is important that the contracts entered into some time ago by the Irish State will not be affected. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced the plan at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York yesterday. 

Ms Johnston said the pursuit of clean, natural energy is a positive step.

She said the IOOA have asked for a meeting with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton, to discuss matters. 


She said it is not always easy to separate exploration for gas from exploration for oil. 

"When you start an exploration, you don't actually know what it is you're going to find.

"You could find oil, you could find gas, you could find rock, you could find water. You don't know what you're going to find until you start looking," Ms Johnson explained. 

She said that a possible future ban on exploration licences being issued could have a significant impact on potential investors, and that companies who might be looking at Ireland to invest in the long-term could see energy security as a risk. 

She added that after Brexit, Ireland will be the only EU member state cut off from mainland Europe's energy supply.

She also said she is not 100% convinced that Ireland would be the first priority if it came to a supply issue. 

"At the moment, we import 100% of the oil we use in this country every single day, and 50% of the gas. 

"We're lucky that the other 50%  comes from Kinsale and Corrib, but those resources are depleting. Kinsale will run out next year, and Corrib will probably only exist for another eight to nine years," she said.

Ms Johnston said that in the long-term, it is very important that the country secures another indigenous supply so that we can maintain our own security. 

She added that if the number of electric cars increases significantly over the next few years, the Government needs to figure out how to power them all.

"That's why we need a new Corrib or a new Kinsale. We still need energy at the flick of a switch, even when those renewable energies are on stream and up and running," Irish Offshore Operators Association CEO said.