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Oil exploration deal for areas off Mayo

Keith Bourke - Western People

THE Mayo coast is set to be the site of further gas and oil exploration after 13 new licenses were granted for the Rockall, Slyne and Porcupine basins.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte said the licences were granted following an assessment of 15 applications submitted last May.

The new licensing round will allow successful companies the first refusal on exploration licences over 250,000sq km of the Atlantic shelf, which is an area about three times the size of the island of Ireland.

Five companies already active in Irish waters and seven new entrants have been offered acreage on the Porcupine, Slyne and Rockall basins under a two-year license agreement. The five existing companies are the Sir Anthony O’Reilly family-run Providence Resources Plc; Chrysaor; Serica Energy; Sosina Exploration and San Leon Energy.

The seven new successful entrants are Antrim Energy; Bluestack Energy; Europa Oil & Gas; First Oil Expro; Petrel Resources; Repsol Exploration; and Two Seas Oil & Gas Ltd. Acreage off the Mayo coast has been offered to Providence Resources.

Minister Rabbitte insisted the state does not have the resources to fund the exploration and rejected claims that Ireland's licensing scheme was excessively generous.

He said another significant find would do wonders for our energy security and said the tax-take would be significant.

The minister said Ireland needs to see an increase in exploration activity and exploration drilling in particular, if the petroleum potential of our offshore is to be realised.

“The positive outcome of the 2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round will help bring a new momentum to the level of exploration activity in our offshore.

“'Ireland must continue to communicate the message to international exploration companies that we are open for business and that the Irish offshore has real potential.”

Meanwhile, Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins said he found the Government's approach to exploration to be utterly wrong.

He said it was handing over to the private oil companies control of the whole future recovery and development of the natural resources off the coast.

Posted Date: 
2 November 2011