Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We've Struck Oil!

After decades of being told that Ireland has no natural resources, years of digging and after some 215 barron holes, in March of this year Ireland's first commercial oil well was discovered by Providence Resources off the Cork coast. Initial estimates stated that the Barryroe oil well contained between 373 and 893 million barrels of oil. However today Providence has stated that the oil field may contain up to 1.6 billion barrels of oil, four times the original estimate!

We are rich, rich I tell you, rich beyond our wildest dreams! Not quite. Given that all previous attempts to find oil off the Irish coast have been fruitless the Irish government, in an attempt to attract exploration and investment has had to set a relatively low tax levy of 25% on profits companies make from oil and gas found in Irish territories. For the same reason the state does not receive Royalties from oil and gas discoveries. reports that even with the low tax levies and lack of royalties, the State could benefit to the tune of a whopping €100 billion. Others stress that significant losses on Providence's books will be written off against profits made on the Barryroe oil well hugely reducing the benefit to the Irish exchequer.

Even if the latter is correct, not all is lost. It is likely that the Government will increase the 25% tax and introduce royalties in order to benefit from further discoveries but not to an extent that will scare off future investment, exploration and drilling.

But is there more oil and gas and if so why has it not been found previously? Well it is generally accepted that the twenty fist centuary has shown enormous advancements in technology. If it is there they will find it. But is it there? David Horgan MD of Petrel Resources plc certainly think so.

"The oil world has been transformed in recent years: despite fluctuations, the oil price remains high. Ireland’s fiscal terms are competitive and legal title is secure.

"Technology has leaped ahead on several fronts, reducing costs and risks. The combination of three dimensional seismic surveys and directional drilling allow explorers to map and drain complex reservoirs.

"The planned development of the 1981 Ballyroe discovery, after a dramatic increase in reserves, shows what is now possible. We believe that the Irish offshore will be increasingly attractive to investors."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Census results - First Release - Phase 1

The first figures from the 2011 census have been relased by NISRA.

I have taken some of the more interesting statistics that have been released and will expand in due course.

"In 2001, a person aged 35 would have been in the older half of the population in Northern Ireland. In 2011 a person would need to have been aged 38 to be in the older half of the population"

We can take from this that the age of 37 represents the median age of the population (half the population is aged under 37 years and half the population is aged over 37 years). This is interesting because the 2001 census showed that the 'tipping point' between the two main religous groups was age 27 (Census table s306a). That is, those people under the age of 27 were majority Catholic and those over the age of 27 were majority Protestant. All things being equal we can assume that the 'tipping point' has increased 10 years to the age of 37, the exact same as the median age. This would mean that parity has been reached between the two main religous groups in the North. However all is not equal. We know that the older half of the populus have a larger Protestant majority than the Catholic majority among the younger half. By how much? We do not know exactly. All will be revealed when Phase 2 & 3 of the census are released later in the year.

What we do know is what the religious breakdown of the 'big three' blocks was in 2001. Table S306 of the 2001 census tells us that Protestants made up 53.1% of the population, Catholics made up 43.8% and Others made up the remaining 3.1%. We aslo know of demographic factors such as a high Catholic birth rate, a Catholic majority in our Schools (53%) and Universities (66%). We know that 51% of applicants and 52% of appointees to the workforce are Catholic. We know that the 2001 census revealed that Protestants make up 66% of the 65 years and older age cohort. This is reflected in the higher death rate in majority Protestant areas.

We are less certain of the other major factor which will effect the full census results. Migration. It is clear that there has been a sharp increase in immigration but what effect this will have on the general population remains to be seen. In terms of Emigration one can assume that as the economy has fallen the numbers of young people moving abroad to work has sharply increased. Again we will have to wait to see what effect this will have on the population but my guess that emigration of the two main communities in the North is similar.

Therefore when Phase 2 & 3 figures are released it is likely that the Catholic and Other percentages will show an increase on the 2001 figure. This would mean that the Protestant figure will decrease.

The reason for the partition of Ireland was to manufacture a Protestant majority in the North. A decrease of 3.1% or more on the 2001 figure will mean that the purpose of the sectarian carve up of Ireland is defunct as the Protestant population will have fallen below 50%.

Table 1 – Census Year Population Estimates by Age (1911 and 2011) Age Group 1911 2011
Number % Number %
0-15 404,400 32% 379,300 21%
16-39 467,500 37% 593,800 33%
40-64 267,700 21% 574,000 32%
65-84 106,900 9% 232,300 13%
85+ 4,100 0.3% 31,400 1.7%
Total 1,250,500 100% 1,810,900 100%
(Census 2011)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

School's Census

In February every year the School Census relating to students of nursery, primary, post primary and special schools in the North is published. The department of education has publised a spreadsheet of the religious background of students here. The graph below uses the data in the spreadsheet to show us the trends over the last ten years among the three main groups 'Catholic', 'Protestant/Other Christian' and 'Other'.

The trend is clear to see. The Catholic percentage of the student population which has been increasing year on year remains steady at 50.9%. The Protestant/Other Christian percentage has been in decline and now stands at 39.9%.

No doubt some would cling to the fact that the 'Other' group (9.2%) has increased in an equal but opposite direction to that of 'Protestant/Other Christian'. This of course would be to assume that the 'Other' group (which includes Non Christian and Other/No Religion/Not Recorded) is made up entirely of students from Protestant communtiy backgrounds. Logically this is not ture. However according to NISRA Protestants are more likely not to declare their religion.

In the 2001 census NISRA allocated children and teenagers of the 'Other/No Religion group' into both community backgrounds (religion or religion brought up in)as follows

•For children aged 5-11, those who were declared as 'None/Not Stated': 24.3% to 'Catholic', 40.0% to 'Protestant and other Christian', 0.5% to 'Non-Christian, and 35.2% to 'None'

•For children aged 12-18, those who were declared as 'None/Not Stated': 25.4% to 'Catholic', 46.5% to 'Protestant and other Christian', 0.5% to 'Non-Christian, and 27.6% to 'None'

Using these figues to allocate the 'Other/No Religion/Not Recorded' group in the Schools census figures we get a truer reflection of the community background of students. Students of a Catholic community background have increased to 53.0%. Students of a Protestant community background has decreased to 43.5%

UEFA award for Ireland Fans

Ireland Fans which have been labelled the "best fans in the world" are to have their contribution to Euro 2012 recognised by UEFA when Michael Platini travels to Dublin to present the award.

While some might see the award as slightly patronising given the dissappointing performances of the team, albeit against the two teams which have gone on to contend the final, most welcome the award. No doubt it is entirely deserved as an estimated 35,000 Ireland supporters from each of the 32 counties flooded into Poznan and Gdansk.

The verdict:

The mayor of Gdansk is to nominate Irish fans for a UEFA fair play award
Singing green army leave as legends - Irish news, Euro 2012 -

A spokesman said the Irish drink a lot of beer, but were no trouble, and were in a word, "wonderful."
Singing green army leave as legends - Irish news, Euro 2012 -

About as threatening as a kindergarten school trip, their purpose is enjoyment rather than intimidation; they are here to have fun rather than to act out some historical domination fantasy
Euro 2012: Ireland fans bring colour and kindness to P oznan - Telegraph

Legacy of the Irish in Poznan

Opinion of Spanish and Polish supporters
Video: Irish fans in Gdansk in full voice as others hail magnificent support ·

Unlike other international teams in Ireland and Britain, Ireland supporters continue to make headlines for all the right reasons. Hopefully the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 will allow the team to give the supporters the results they deserve.