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Oil and gas boom in Ireland?

Massive oil find in time for general election?
national | environment | other press Thursday January 25, 2007 22:03 by Miiram Cotton mcotton at mediabite dot org
What have FF been holding back?
In discussion with a member of the Rossport Five last autumn mention was made of the fact that he believed the government were planning to make a big, election-winning announcement about the discovery of oil off our shores in time to secure a resounding victory at the next election. A tiny item in today's Irish Daily Mirror might point to something in that direction too:
"The government is locked in talks this week which could result in the biggest oil rush the country has ever seen. Officials are holding meetings at the UN headquarters in New York to secure more offshore territory to drill in". Ireland can currently explore for natural resources on the sea bed up to 320 kilometeres outside the coastline. But now the state has requested access to an extra 39,000 square km off the southwest coast - about half the size of the country. The UN will make a decision on this submission during its next session in March or April. Ireland was only the fourth country ever to make a submission to the UN following similar moves by Rissia, Brazil and Australia. Last May, Ireland also requested access to 80,000 square km on the Celtic Sea off the south coast." The piece is on page 2, barely noticeable in the least viewed part of the layout. For such an extraordinarily signficant item of news, this seems a bit strange. Why so coy? Do Manchester United's training secrets seriously warrant front page coverage ahead of this?

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Our old friend Andy Pyle fetches up again
by Miriam Cotton - MediaBite Thu Jan 25, 2007 22:13 mcotton at mediabite dot org
http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/3072...y.htm Are the government desperate to recover from the great gas and oil give-away? And if so, what of the Shell to Sea campaign? Might it be drowned in a tidal wave of avaricious excitement and hubris? Fascinating quote from the article linked to above: "Given the current oil price ... companies are looking wider than they may have done in the past," said Andy Pyle, managing director of Shell Exploration and Production Ireland. The Irish government hopes to capitalise on this interest. In the past year, it has launched two licensing rounds for blocks off the west coast and adopted a more vigorous approach to marketing the nation's potential internationally. "There's huge competition between countries ... it's for that reason we made the decision a few years back to review the various incentives to try and attract more exploration," said natural resources minister Noel Dempsey. Taxes have been lowered and at 25 percent, Ireland's rate on oil and gas profits is now among the lowest in the world. By comparison, Norway has an effective 78 percent tax rate. Dempsey said the initial response from oil firms to the rounds was positive. If demand for licences in the Celtic Sea, off the southwest coast, is anything to go by, he can be optimistic these will translate into firm bids. "
Related Link: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/3072...y.htm

gosh! if there is oil in the Celtic Sea..,
by iosaf Fri Jan 26, 2007 17:59The people of Munster might at long last achieve independence just like the Scottish & have decent education, short waiting lists at hospitals, & saturated food. note the difference between Ireland's 25% tax rate & that of Norway's 78%! thank you Mim. $50 Oil Brings Exploration Surge to Irish Shores
DUBLIN - Millions of visitors come to Ireland every year looking for the "black stuff" but now, with oil prices above $50 a barrel, an increasing number are exploring for more than just Guinness.

Irish oil men report a surge of interest in drilling for oil and gas in the waters off Ireland's south and west coasts but some fear this may only be a window of opportunity that will close if, as analysts expect, oil prices fall.
"There has been a huge uplift in the level of interest over the past year or so and, I guess, $50 oil is driving that," said David Hough, managing director of Circle Oil, a small Irish exploration firm with interests in the Celtic Sea.
The rise of interest in exploration in Ireland echoes a global trend that has seen many countries not known for hydrocarbon wealth, including Nicaragua, Tanzania and Mongolia, attract attention from would-be wildcatters.
"Given the current oil price ... companies are looking wider than they may have done in the past," said Andy Pyle, managing director of Shell Exploration and Production Ireland.
The Irish government hopes to capitalise on this interest. In the past year, it has launched two licensing rounds for blocks off the west coast and adopted a more vigorous approach to marketing the nation's potential internationally.
"There's huge competition between countries ... it's for that reason we made the decision a few years back to review the various incentives to try and attract more exploration," said natural resources minister Noel Dempsey.
Taxes have been lowered and at 25 percent, Ireland's rate on oil and gas profits is now among the lowest in the world. By comparison, Norway has an effective 78 percent tax rate.
Dempsey said the initial response from oil firms to the rounds was positive. If demand for licences in the Celtic Sea, off the southwest coast, is anything to go by, he can be optimistic these will translate into firm bids.
"You can't get a square inch down there at the moment," Hough said.
WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
Shell wouldn't say if it planned to bid in the licensing rounds but the Anglo/Dutch giant and the other oil majors now focus on big projects in regions with large, known deposits.
Consequently most interest is expected to come from mid-sized foreign players and small explorers such as Circle and the scores of rivals that also listed on the London Stock Exchange's junior AIM market in the last year.
Mid-size firms, such as Marathon Oil, currently seem prepared to spend some of the masses of cash they are generating from high oil prices on long shots like Ireland, while the public markets are happy to provide funds to the oil minnows.
However, if oil and gas prices fall before material finds are made, this willingness to invest could evaporate and with it, the whole Irish exploration industry.
"There's a window of opportunity, where Ireland can attract further exploration investment in the next three to five years. The future very much depends on whether that proves to be successful," Shell's Pyle said.
POOR RECORD
Offshore oil and gas exploration began in Ireland in the late 1960s and really took off after Houston-based Marathon discovered the Kinsale Head gas field in 1971 with around 1.5 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of recoverable gas -- a medium-sized find by industry standards, it led to natural gas taking off as an energy source in Ireland.
Over the next twenty years international oil firms including Exxon, Total and BP Plc drilled in the hope Ireland might replicate the success seen in the North Sea.
However, excluding satellites to Kinsale, no further economic finds were made. This eroded investors' faith and the rate of drilling halved in the 1990s.
Fergus Cahill, chairman of the Irish Offshore Operators Association, estimates around 2 billion euros have been spent on exploration since the early 1970s, with disappointing results.
"More money has been put into the ground than taken out of it," Cahill said.
Oil executives say the potential for success has been raised by technological advances which have opened up large areas off the Atlantic coast for exploration and development.
In 1996 Enterprise Oil, later bought by Royal Dutch/Shell Group, discovered the almost 1 Tcf Corrib gas field under 350 metres of water off the west coast.
This is twice the average depth for wells in the North Sea, and three times the depth for wells in the Celtic Sea.
Some prospects in the latest rounds have depths in excess of 1,500 metres. It is such Atlantic sites that offer the best opportunities for success, John O' Sullivan, exploration manager at Dublin-based Providence Resourcessaid.

Story by Tom Bergin

Story Date: 9/5/2005

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Posted Date: 
26 January 2007 - 7:27pm