Northern Ireland’s oil-based economy is at risk of a crash, says the director of the oil and gas research organisation Oil and Gas Ireland.
“There is a concern about the sustainability of the industry in Northern Ireland,” says Richard Breen.
“The market is going to crash in the next two or three years, if the situation is not remedied.”
Mr Breen has been studying Northern Ireland oil for the last 20 years.
“It’s a long-term issue,” he says.
“I’ve been here 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
He points to the massive decline in oil and petrol prices that have hit Northern Ireland hard.
In 2014, the oil market was worth $1.7 billion, but it dropped to just $1 billion in 2016.
That is down from $2.7bn in 2009, according to the Energy Research Centre at the University of Strathclyde.
“What I’m saying is that if the industry is not managed, then that’s a problem,” Mr Bennis says.
He says the oil industry is in a dire position.
“In the last six months, it has lost $1bn, or 30 per cent of its value,” he said.
Eni says it has invested $3.5 billion to boost the industry. “
When you look at the number of people employed in the industry, they are just scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
Eni says it has invested $3.5 billion to boost the industry.
“Eni has invested heavily in the oil, gas and mining sectors in Northern Britain, Ireland and Wales,” a spokesperson told The Irish News.
“We have a strong, growing and robust oil and natural gas business here in Northern Europe.”
In recent years, Eni has had to ramp up production in its Belfast refinery to cope with the growing demand.
It also has to find new markets to export oil and fuel.
Eni’s head of investment and business development, John Larkin, says his company is working hard to improve its supply chain.
“As we have seen in the past, the market is changing rapidly, and that means we have to adapt,” he told The Independent.
Enjocable industry Mr Benny says Northern Ireland has been the main export market for oil since the Second World War, but the industry has now been “diverged”. “
A new refinery is not going to happen overnight.”
Enjocable industry Mr Benny says Northern Ireland has been the main export market for oil since the Second World War, but the industry has now been “diverged”.
“The oil and gases industry is diversified, but as a result of that diversification we have now a fragmented market,” he adds.
He says there are currently 1,000 oil and chemical plants in Northern British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland, which together account for around a quarter of Northern UK’s exports. “
One of the problems is that the international supply chain is fragmented, and it is not very attractive to foreign companies to come in and operate in Northern UK.”
He says there are currently 1,000 oil and chemical plants in Northern British Columbia, Alberta and Newfoundland, which together account for around a quarter of Northern UK’s exports.
Enjogable industry ‘a good thing’ The Irish economy is in recession, and Northern Ireland, like other parts of Britain, has seen a huge drop in oil exports in recent years.
Last year, Enjosl is predicting its sales in Northern Scotland and the rest of the UK will fall by more than 40 per cent.
The industry, which makes up around 15 per cent, has been investing heavily to try to turn things around.
“If you look around the world, it is a good thing,” says Mr Benna.
“You have all these different industries competing, and if you can diversify, you can do more.”
He argues the oil boom is still in its infancy, and there are still some big unknowns.
“My concern is that we are seeing the effects of the downturn of the last 10 to 12 years, but at the same time, there is a lot of oil that is still being produced,” he tells The Irish Sun.
“Even if the downturn is over, there will still be a lot going on.”
Mr Larkin says Enjopable is one of the few companies that is fully capitalised, with enough cash to do what it needs to do.
“Northern Ireland is a very big, very complex market, and you have to diversise,” he argues.
“But that means a lot more people have to come into the industry.”