Within the island of Ireland as a whole, oil represents over 50% of total energy demand and the bulk of this oil (59%) is used in the transport sector. Northern Ireland imports all of its oil requirements, principally from Great Britain – from where the bulk of Ireland’s supplies are also sourced – and it has no refining capacity. On an all-Ireland basis, therefore, ~75% of all of the oil demand is imported as refined product, while the refinery at Whitegate, Co. Cork supplies the remainder from imported crude oil. Over the past two decades, oil refining capacity in Europe has been decreasing significantly and this has been particularly marked in Great Britain, especially its west coast refineries which, traditionally, have supplied the island of Ireland.
Against this background, the Department for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) appointed a consortium of Purvin & Gertz and Byrne Ó Cléirigh to conduct a study of the strategic case for oil refining requirements on the island of Ireland. This study involved the following tasks:
- Identification and modelling of realistic future oil demand scenarios out to 2050.
- Analysis of the existing and potential supply methods and storage options for crude and refined product.
- Assessment of the strategic merits of an appropriate refining capacity to meet the total Irish demand.
- Review of the existing and potential future capability of the refinery at Whitegate.
- Development of relevant conclusions and make appropriate recommendations.
We modelled the oil supply infrastructure across the island of Ireland: the import capacity through the oil ports; the storage capacity for crude oil and refined product; and the distribution capacity through Ireland’s commercial oil terminals. We also conducted a detailed statistical breakdown of the demand for the various oil products on a regional basis within Ireland. This analysis provided, for the first time, an indication of the robustness of the Irish oil supply and distribution system to meet the demand across the island as a whole.
Our final report, entitled Study of the Strategic Case for Oil Refining Requirements on the Island of Ireland, is available from the Department's website.
This study followed on from a previous project that we had undertaken for the same Department to review of the security of Ireland’s access to commercial oil supplies.