The ability of the State to take control of oil stocks in the event of an emergency will be strengthened under measures due to be approved by the Government on Wednesday.
Ministers are to gather for the first Cabinet meeting of the year, with a relatively light agenda expected.
Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan will seek approval to publish the Oil Emergency Contingency and Transfer of Renewable Transport Fuels Functions Bill 2022, which will set out the extra powers he would have in the event of a sudden curtailment of oil supplies.
It is expected that Ministers will be told there is no such concern or risk at present in relation to oil supplies. Instead, they will be told that it is considered “prudent housekeeping” to develop contingency plans at the current time.
Attorney General questioned constitutionality of new telecoms security measures before taking up post
Key measures to be introduced in the Bill include clarity around the powers of the Minister, and how quickly they can be deployed, to control the supply and distribution of fuel in an emergency. The legislation will also put all aspects of oil emergency planning on a statutory footing.
A register of oil suppliers – to ensure fast communication to retailers – will also be established.
The Cabinet will be updated on international oil supplies and prices, which have been steady in recent months after a period of significant flux earlier last year.
Furthermore, as part of the State’s international obligations, the National Oil Reserves Agency holds about 85 days worth of strategic stocks. The agency’s stock holding is expected to be at 90 days by the end of this month.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys is also expected to bring a memo to Cabinet outlining plans for a €50 million fund for communities with large numbers of refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere.
Separately, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is expected to update his fellow Ministers on plans to address vacancy in the housing sector. He will set out progress under a number of schemes put in place including a repair and leasing scheme, which is targeted at owners of vacant properties who cannot afford to bring the property up to the required standard for rental properties.
He will outline plans for Compulsory Purchase Orders that local authorities can use in addressing vacancy particularly when other forms of engagement have been unsuccessful. Mr O’Brien will also tell the Cabinet that at present, 29 out of 31 local authorities have full-time vacant home officers in place with the two remaining local authorities recruiting for the role.