Question to the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr. Alex White, TD)
To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans for the refinery at Whitegate, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer
For WRITTEN ANSWER on Tuesday, 24 March 2015.
The Whitegate Refinery is operated by a private company, Phillips 66. The company recently sold the Whiddy Island oil storage facilities in Bantry to Zenith Energy Ireland Limited but continue to operate the refinery at Whitegate. The company has confirmed that no decision has yet been taken in respect of its future.
In July 2013, a report on the strategic case for oil refining on the island of Ireland, commissioned by my Department, was published. The study found that the existing oil import facilities on the island of Ireland taken as a whole offer a robust infrastructure that could provide comfortable alternatives in the event of a serious disruption at any one of the six principal oil ports. The oil ports could supply the total oil demand, regardless of any future decisions on the operation of Whitegate as either a refinery or terminal. The development of the Irish motorway network has been significant in improving oil security of supply in recent years, facilitating the transport of oil from key ports throughout the island. Work with counterparts in Northern Ireland is ongoing with a view to enhancing contingency planning in both jurisdictions.
Following publication of the report, the Government’s primary conclusion on the strategic case for oil refining is that the presence of an operational refinery on the island provides flexibility, enhancing the options available to the State in the event of an oil supply disruption, by providing an alternative source of product thus mitigating a complete reliance on product imports.
In light of that conclusion, the Government had agreed that my Department should liaise with the Irish oil industry and appropriate public bodies to determine any policy options that might facilitate the commercial future of refining in Ireland. I expect to be in a position to brief Government on the available policy options shortly.