Eamon Ryan helping oil and gas companies again by backing CETA

- Corrib Gas operators Vermilion previously threatened to use investor courts to sue France over climate law -

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has yet again used his position in Government to help oil and gas companies, this time by pushing for the ratification of the CETA trade deal [1], according to environmental campaign group Gluaiseacht.

In his first stint as Minister for Energy a decade ago, Eamon Ryan, despite being a high-profile opponent of the Corrib Gas development before entering Government, signed off on various authorisations for the project during his term in Government [2, 3].

In recent months, intense lobbying in particular by the Ireland Canada Business Association (ICBA), has seen Eamon Ryan convert from opposing CETA to supporting the trade deal [4]. The ICBA is a trade association for Canadian businesses in Ireland and includes 2 of the 3 Corrib Gas partners, Vermilion Energy and Nephin Energy. Among the other ICBA members is Irving Oil which owns Ireland’s only oil refinery.

Nephin Energy is the largest shareholder of the Corrib Gas field, holding 43.5% of the field and is owned by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. A recent interview with Tom O’Brien, MD of Nephin Energy, made clear that they are currently looking at developing further gas fields around the Corrib gas field, despite a commitment in the Programme for Government that there wouldn’t be any new oil and gas licences given out [5]. Mr O’Brien was one of the signatories of a recent letter to the Irish Times by large Canadian businesses in Ireland and the ICBA calling on the Government to ratify CETA [6].

Meanwhile, it is worth noting that Corrib shareholder and operator Vermillion Energy has previously threatened to sue France using “investor courts” if France pushed ahead with a proposed climate law to end fossil fuel extraction by 2040. The subsequent climate law was significantly watered down. A case study on the incident stated:

“the ambition of France’s much-respected Environment Minister was clearly killed by well-resourced corporate interests that used ISDS as one powerful secret weapon against an urgent and popular goal: combat climate change. A year after the September 2017 version of his fossil fuels law, Hulot resigned. In his resignation interview, he stated that corporate lobbies had too much influence on environmental policy-making” [7]

The regulatory chill that these corporate court systems create has been noted many times, with one corporate lawyer stating “I do a ton of work that involves threatened claims that never go to arbitration,” “That’s much more common,”. “It’s much better to get things done quietly.”[8]

Gluaiseacht member and past Corrib Gas campaigner Nancy Serrano said: “It is worth comparing two of Eamon Ryan’s recent positions. His Department's recent draft Climate Action Bill would make it more difficult for citizens to challenge Ireland’s climate target failures in future. In contrast, CETA will make it easier for corporations to sue on any regulations or laws that affect their profits.”[9]

Nancy Serrano continued: ”Building new bike lanes and retrofitting houses is needed to lessen the effects of the climate crisis but Eamon Ryan seems unwilling to understand that we also need to stand up to the corporations and corporate ideology that has caused the climate crisis. CETA will help the very corporations that we need to challenge at this time, and impede Ireland from fulfilling its climate obligations.“

The Canadian government has also listed the “Opportunities and Benefits of CETA for Canada’s Oil and Gas Exporters” including that “Under CETA, Canadian oil and gas products enjoy duty-free, quota-free market access to the EU".[10]
Preliminary studies on the effects of CETA have stated that petroleum companies have been the main winners under CETA so far [11]


[1] Q&A: What is the CETA deal? Oisin Coghlan - Irish Examiner

[2] Retention of Corrib details an oversight, says Minister - Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

[3] Corrib gas project review not an option, says Ryan - Lorna Siggins - Irish Times

[4] Lobbying of 8 Ministers and Taoiseach and Tanaiste by the Ireland Canada Business Association: https://www.lobbying.ie/return/61508/ireland-canada-buisness-association

[5] Tom O’Brien of Nephin Energy talking about Corrib Gas and future plans

[6] Time to ratify trade deal with Canada - Letter to the Irish Times

[7] Blocking Climate Changes Laws with ISDS Threats: Vermilion vs France

[8] The Secret Threat That Makes Corporations More Powerful Than Countries - Chris Hamby - Buzzfeed


[9] Expert says climate bill full of 'weasel words, get-out clauses and loopholes' -
Caroline O'Doherty - Irish Independent

[10] Opportunities and Benefits of CETA for Canada’s Oil and Gas Exporters - Government of Canada

[11] After two years of CETA - Petroleum companies are the winners - Institut de recherche et d'informations socioéconomiques

[12] Youtube video: Eamon Ryan and Corrib Gas

Error | Gluaiseacht


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