The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI) and Tamboran seem to have a close and cosy relationship.
Take this question asked by Steven Agnew recently.
in AQW 23654/11-15 Mr Agnew asks the DETI Mnister for a list of all public meetings which her Department has organised. Now quite apart from the fact that DETI/GSNI haven’t organised any public meetings, it then goes on record to state that Department Officials have only attended one Public Information meeting – the one organised by Tamboran. This is a bit strange given that Rathlin Energy are more advanced with their plans to drill a well near Ballycastle.
An FOI document from the Republic, reveals some other information on the services that GSNI are willing to perform for Tamboran. In the email, Dr. Tony Bazley is requesting the Petroleum Affairs Division to host a meeting in Dublin with respect to meeting with regulators similar to one in Belfast ‘that was organised last Monday for us by Mike Young’. – Mike Young is current director of GSNI.
Perhaps it should be no surprise as Dr Bazley is an ex director of GSNI. GSNI themselves are effectively British Geological Society personnel on secondment to DETI (see GSNI Website link on BGS website). And Dr David Falvey on the board of Tamboran is an ex director of the BGS.
So this leads to the question, what is the role of GSNI and how are they funded. The Funding issue seems that they can take private donations and do private research but I suspect very little – AQW 20853/11-15 and AQW 20854/11-15 give answers to those questions.
As regards the Role of the GSNI. Its crystal clear as to what the Role SHOULD BE.
From AQW 20851/11-15
Steven Agnew asked
To ask the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment whether the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland has any regulatory roles.
No. The Geological Survey of Northern Ireland provides technical advice to the Minerals and Petroleum Branch of DETI. This advice assists DETI with regulating Petroleum Licences, Mineral Prospecting Permits and Mining Licences.
So GSNI have no regulatory role, merely an advisory role, and that advisory role is to the Government and Department, rather to private companies. Its perhaps here that I have some reservations about the blurring of roles and responsibilities. We have already seen that GSNI only attended the Tamboran Public Meeting, and also organised a meeting for regulators in Belfast on behalf of Tamboran.
These two emails, Dec 2011, feb 2012, however, would seem to suggest they are also performing a quasi regulatory role. If one reads the emails from Derek Reay, especially the Feb 2012 one, its clear that GSNI are performing a regulatory function – even if they say the Regulator of the licence – Minerals and Petroleum Board will follow up.
Actually, there in may potentially lie a problem. I requested a list from DETI of all correspondence on Licensing in Fermanagh. This list is long and extensive. The email from Mr. Reay to Tamboran on 3/2/2012 is included, but the follow up email that’s referenced is not included in the list. I think this to be more of an oversight. However there is also no document from Tamboran to DETI dated in first 6 weeks of 2012, which would technically make them in breach of their licence conditions. Also the meeting which Michael Young organised on behalf of Tamboran doesn’t appear in the list either so it would seem I don’t have the full list.