The developers of a proposed floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage platform off the south coast of Ireland reckon the project can eventually generate annual revenues of between €89m and €111m a year.
But the plan by Predator Oil and Gas now faces an increasingly hostile political environment as the Green Party prepares for government. The Programme for Government published on Monday includes a ban on any LNG gas import terminals that import fracked gas and says government will withdraw support for development of a long-planned LNG terminal on the Shannon Estuary.
"As Ireland moves towards carbon neutrality, we do not believe that it makes sense to develop LNG gas import terminals importing fracked gas, accordingly we shall withdraw the Shannon LNG terminal from the EU Projects of Common Interest list in 2021," the programme published yesterday noted.
"We do not support the importation of fracked gas and shall develop a policy statement to establish that approach," it added.
Predator Oil and Gas, whose chief executive is Paul Griffiths, confirmed yesterday that it has appointed a regulatory and environmental consultant to the project and insisted that capital expenditure for the scheme would be "significantly less" than the up to £450m (€501m) a similar project by Infrastrata in the UK is expected to cost.
The proposed floating LNG storage structure would be located at the Kinsale gas field - Ireland's first commercial gas find - which is close to being decommissioned after about 40 years in operation.
Mr Griffiths said that industrial and commercial energy users require certainty that peak energy demands during the day can be met in order to maintain competitiveness and secure investment for business growth.
"Brexit is making Ireland largely dependent on the United Kingdom for security of energy supply against a background of difficult trade negotiations," he said.
Mr Griffiths said that southeast Ireland and the Cork area had benefited "greatly" from the production of gas in Kinsale, saying it had historically been the "energy hub" for the country.
"The FRSU (Floating Storage and Regasification Unit) project can maintain this tradition by providing a pragmatic and practical solution to security of energy supply utilising existing infrastructure," he said.
"Promoting business recovery and expansion following the severe economic impact of Covid-19 will be necessary despite an environment of significant debt burden and reduced government taxes."
Jersey-based Predator said it had executed a non-exclusive confidentiality agreement with one potential purchaser of gas. That is to facilitate the exchange of information to develop scoping commercial terms for any future potential gas sales contract.
Last week, UK-listed infrastructure group Infrastrata said it had agreed to buy a proposed FRSU project at Barrow-in-Furness in northwest England.
The project's estimated capital expenditure will be between £350m and £450m. It will be funded by putting together a consortium of partners at project level, said Infrastrata.
"Comparative capex costs are significantly less for the Predator FSRU solution due to the potential to utilise existing infrastructure which ties directly into the Irish gas transmission network," said Predator yesterday.