Irish Natural Resources

Ireland’s Oil and Gas Resources Stretch to Lough Allen


According to the Petroleum Affairs Division, (PAD), current estimates indicate at least 10 billion barrels of oil lie off the west coast Ireland. The Irish Independent stated that energy exports have the potential to transform Ireland into a “new Middle East.”

“A recent regional assessment estimated resources in the Porcupine and Rockall Basins at ten billion barrels of oil. Estimates are based on comparisons with the geology of other regions with proven success,” explained Helen Chandler, spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources.

In a recent publication by the Petroleum Affairs Division, (PAD), entitled Atlantic Ireland, it stated: “The potential shows volumes of over 130 billion barrels of oil and 50 trillion cubic feet of gas.”

Most of these deposits have been pinpointed along anunderwater ridge known as the Atlantic Margin which runs parallel to the west coast of Ireland in a more or less straight line before arcing off towards Scotland and the North Sea onwards towards Scandinavia.

 The Dunquin gas field which is 200km off the coast of Kerry contains an “astonishing25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 4,130 million barrels of oil. According to the Irish Independent this alone would meet Ireland’s gas needs – at present consumption levels – for the next 62 years.

The Dunquin field is being principally developed by Exxon Mobil: “With Dunquin we are planning to drill wells next year and 2009. It is deep water, and as a rule of thumb, it takes about five years to get a field into production, so we are looking at 2013 to 2015.

Further up the coast is the Spanish Point field, which is 200km off the coast of Clare. The field has known reserves of one and a quarter trillion cubic feet of gas and 206 million barrels of oil, and is valued at €19.6bn. The drilling of wells will start next year and field production field will start in 2011.

 The Corrib field, in County Mayo, which has an estimated value of “anywhere” between €8bn to €87bn. The field is being developed by Shell, Marathon and Statoil, the Norwegian state oil corporation.

Inland lies the Lough Allen Basin – an area which was largely famous as a bog. But now the area has been “notionally” valued at €74.4 billion and contains 9.4 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.5 billion barrels of oil

This vast field lies beneath Lough Allen and includes Cavan, Fermanagh, Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo.

“The answer to a large part of our security of supply could be in the North West of Ireland. It has the potential to turn from a gas importer to a gas exporter,” explains Tom Davitt, CEO of Finavera, who are planning to develop the field in the near future.

At present, nine new Frontier Exploration Licences and five Petroleum Prospecting Licences are outstanding for areas off the Donegal coast.




Rockall 2009 “Frontier” Licensing Round

Department of Marine, Communications, and Natural Resourcers extends area ‘on offer’ for oil and gas exploration licenses under the 2009 Rockall Licensing Round

On 8th July, 2008 the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Mr. Seán Power T.D. today announced that he has decided to extend the area to be opened for licensing in the 2009 Rockall Licensing Round to include the north-western margin of the Rockall Basin. This will bring the total acreage on offer under the round to 117,100 square kilometres.

In announcing the expanded area, the Minister said that “this is the first time since 1997, that such a major part of the Rockall Basin has been the subject of a licensing round. Recent technical studies have indicated a significant petroleum potential within the Rockall Basin. It is timely, therefore, that the oil and gas exploration industry be offered an opportunity to commit to invest in new exploration programmes in the basin.”

The Minister said that the Department was building on the success of the two most recent licensing rounds (Porcupine 2008 and Slyne\Erris\Donegal 2006) and that the pace of drilling activity was increasing off Ireland. As a result, he was ‘confident’ that the Rockall Round would attract significant interest from exploration companies.

Applications for Frontier Exploration Licences covering blocks in the round will be invited in late 2008 with a closing date for applications in  2009.