Ireland has not joined other European countries in seeking to source temporary floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals as part of an effort to diversify fuel supplies amid the ongoing energy crisis.
The Department of the Environment confirmed the State has not tried to secure floating storage and regasification units (FSRUs) for LNG similar to those ordered by Germany, the Netherlands and other EU countries.
The Green Party has major concerns over LNG due to the environmentally damaging fracking process being used in its extraction by some producers. Others in Government, particularly in Fine Gael, have argued it should remain an option.
The Coalition adopted a policy statement in opposition to importing fracked gas in May of last year, though it stopped short of a legal ban. This policy is in place pending the results of a review of the security of Ireland's energy supply, which is due to be published next week ahead of a period of public consultation.
In recent days, the Financial Times reported that there as many as 19 new FSRU projects around Europe as countries seek alternatives to sourcing gas from Russia.
Ireland gets most of its gas through interconnectors with the United Kingdom and from the Corrib gas field off the Co Mayo coast and is far less reliant on Russian gas than European neighbours. However, some believe FSRUs could provide an insurance policy in case of disruption to supply from the UK, given the Corrib field is nearing exhaustion.
The department confirmed that Ireland had not sought to source FSRUs to date. A spokesman said that under the policy on fracked gas, "it would not be appropriate for the development of any LNG terminals in Ireland to be permitted or proceeded with" ahead of the outcome of the energy security review.
Security of supply
The review is examining the key risks to the security of supply of electricity and gas as well as options to mitigate these. These include "the need for additional capacity to import energy, including LNG, energy storage, fuel diversification and renewable gases such as hydrogen".
The Irish Times asked a spokeswoman for Minister for the Environment and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan if he would allow the use of LNG or FSRUs if recommended by the review. She said the energy review will be published next week and "it's best to wait until then for further detail on the paper in the round and on the options that it may contain".
She said Mr Ryan had previously said a State-owned storage capacity would have to be available to Irish people in the event of any supply disruption without breaching Ireland's climate action plans.