Assessing the Corrib gas controversy: Beyond ‘David and Goliath’ analyses of a resource conflict

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Since its discovery offshore Ireland in 1996, Corrib gas has become synonymous with controversy and social-ecological upheaval. Drawing on original data, this case study of the Corrib gas conflict illuminates social, economic environmental and political impacts of oil companies’ activities in northwest Ireland and demonstrates how opposition to the Corrib project was not due to NIMBYism or a case of a small rural community fighting a ‘David and Goliath’ type battle against one of the world’s largest multinational oil companies. Rather the community of resistance focused attention on multi-level issues of power, politics and flawed policy formation which resulted in myriad socio-economic and environmental impacts.

This article interprets the Corrib gas conflict as a microcosm of Irish state hydrocarbon management, illuminating fundamental issues of society-environment interactions, Ireland’s socio-economic composition, the functioning of the Irish state and its ‘structural interdependence’ with multinational corporations (Harman, 2009; Slevin, 2016). The article argues that forces driving the dispute are simultaneously practical and ideological, local, national and global, extending beyond fractious dynamics of oil company and community interactions to encompass state institutions and Ireland’s place in a globalized world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-530
Number of pages12
JournalThe Extractive Industries and Society
Issue number2
Early online date27 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2019


  • Community resistance
  • Corrib gas
  • Hydrocarbon management
  • Resource conflict
  • Structural interdependence of state and capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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