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Old December 4th, 2012, 01:44 AM   #161
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Quote:
Oil company not informed of Dalkey designation proposal

TIM O'BRIEN


Tue, Dec 04, 2012



Providence Resources, the company prospecting for oil off Dalkey in Dublin Bay, yesterday said it had not been given advance information of a Government proposal to designate an area from Dalkey Island to north of Swords as a Marine Special Area of Conservation.

Maps provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht showing the location of six proposed marine special areas of conservation appeared to show an overlap between Providence Resources’s location for a seismic survey and an area called Dalkey Island to Rockabill, which is earmarked for special conservation.

Designation as a special area of conservation (SAC), or even a candidate area, means development would be extremely problematic.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan yesterday proposed more than 27,000 hectares from Dalkey Island northwards across Dublin Bay to north of Swords be designated such an area. The location was one of six designations made under the EU habitats directive.

The others are the Blackwater bank off Co Wexford; the west Connacht coast; Hempton’s turbot bank off the north Donegal coast; Rockabill to Dalkey Island; the Porcupine bank canyon; and southeast Rockall bank.

Notes to the announcement said certain Irish habitats and species had been identified as “insufficiently represented” on a list of Irish marine special areas of conservation. Following a seminar in 2009, the Irish government “agreed a series of further actions with the [European] Commission concerning the designation of additional areas to protect more habitats and species”.

The announcement said the six areas would constitute Ireland’s contribution to that process. The habitat and species to be protected in the Dalkey Island special area are local reefs and the harbour porpoise.

Regulation

A Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht spokeswoman said activities in the special areas were regulated by several different departments. She said “no activities” were prohibited but the relevant department must ensure there was no risk to the integrity of the areas before granting consents.

Each department has different consent procedures for the issuing of licences but all are obliged to screen each licence application for its potential impacts on the habitats and species protected in the SAC and to undertake an “appropriate assessment” as required under the directive if there is a risk to the habitat.

Last month the Department of the Environment awarded a foreshore licence to Providence Resources for exploratory drilling 6km from the Dalkey coast.

Providence has argued the project would be of significant economic benefit to Ireland, with up to 40 per cent of profits from production accruing to the State. But groups such as Dublin Bay Solidarity, which organised protests, have raised concerns about environmental issues and taxation and have criticised the level of public consultation on the licence.

A Providence spokesman said it had “heard nothing” of the proposed designation and would consider a response when it had time to assess the move.

© 2012 The Irish Times
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 10:15 AM   #162
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‘Several hundred million barrels’ of oil may lie in new Petrel site off Kerry

Petrel Resources says it is holding talks with prospective partners after a second site in the Porcupine Basin suggests oil.

2 April 2013

AN EXPLORATION COMPANY with rights to explore an area off the west coast of Co Kerry claims the field has shown the potential to hold hundreds of millions of barrels worth of oil.

Petrel Resources says the site in ‘Quad 45′, about 100 kilometres to the west of Valentia Island, has “the capability to hold several hundred million barrels of in-place oil”.

The site was authorised for exploration in 2011, when 13 various sites in the Porcupine Basin off the west coast were offered for new ventures.

Petrel was offered two of those sites; the other site in ‘Quad 35′, about 120 kilometres west of the Dingle peninsula, showed the capability of hosting in excess of a billion barrels of oil.

Quad 45 lies about 35 kilometres northeast of an area in the Dunquin prospect, which is already the focus of a major prospective drilling operation from a consortium led by Exxon Mobil.


The Quad 45 plot licensed to Petrel is shown here in pink with a red mark around it.

Petrel said it had purchased additional seismic data of the area and has carried out further regional seismic mapping.

“We have long believed that the offshore Porcupine Basin is a hydrocarbon province,” Petrel managing director David Horgan said in a media release.

“This has been further supported by our recent work in identifying potential prospects on both of our blocks.

“We look forward to increased activities across the Basin which we believe has the potential to be a major new oil province. We have commenced our search for potential partners.”

Shares in Petrel rose by over 10 per cent in early trading in London this morning.

TheJournal.ie
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Old April 3rd, 2013, 04:24 PM   #163
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Anybody in the Oil Industry knows there is a difference between "potential to hold" and actual holdings!

I believe there is a major drilling rig due in Irish waters this Summer.....hopefully it finds something....for everybodys sake

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Old April 4th, 2013, 04:58 AM   #164
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ExxonMobil commences drilling at Porcupine Basin in Ireland

Published 03 April 2013


ExxonMobil has commenced a EUR125m ($160m) drilling activity over two prospects at the Dunquin licence area in the Porcupine Basin, 200km offshore Ireland.

Based on earlier data, which suggested the presence of nearly 300 million barrels of oil and 8.5 trillion cubic feet of gas between the two Dunquin prospects, ExxonMobil is planning to drill test wells over a four-month period.

The prospects, if proven and extracted, could be one of the biggest ever global discoveries of oil and gas and is expected to change Ireland's economic fortunes, reported Independent.ie.

Drilling over Dunquin prospects, which are situated in the Atlantic where the ocean is 1.6km deep, is a much anticipated programme and is eagerly watched by oil companies across the globe.

In March 2008, Irish independent oil and gas exploration company Providence Resources, along with ExxonMobil and UK-based Sosina Exploration, was awarded two exploration licences in Porcupine Basin.

The licences in the Porcupine Basin comprise 13 blocks across 760,000 acres, located in water depths of at least 6,500ft.

In June 2009, Providence announced that it will start site survey work on the Dunquin acreage in Porcupine Basin.

ExxonMobil and Italian firm Eni, hold 27.5% interest each in the Dunquin prospect, while Spanish energy firm Repsol, UK-based Sosina and Providence Resources has 25%, 4% and 16% interest, respectively in the prospect.
http://explorationanddevelopment.ene...ireland-030413
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Old April 10th, 2013, 10:19 AM   #165
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Fastnet says Shanagarry's potential confirmed
Updated: 08:49, Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Celtic Sea set to be transformed over the next 12 months, says Fastnet

Exploration company Fastnet Oil and Gas has said the latest independent assessment of its Shanagarry licence in the North Celtic Sea confirms the significant resource potential of the site.

The Shanagarry licence covers an areas of 123 square km and is comparable in size to the Kinsale gas field and Barryroe oil field structures.

Fastnet said it believes the Celtic Sea is set to be transformed over the next 12 months as it once again becomes Ireland's foremost oil and gas basin.

It pointed out that the area was drilled by Marathon in 1984 when oil and gas prices were low and before the discovery and appraisal of Barryroe and the Dragon field in Cardigan Bay.

The company farmed into the Shanagarry licence last year and now operates and holds an 82.35% working interest in the field.

''Fastnet's 3D seismic programmes and farm-out activity places the company in a unique position in the Celtic Sea to provide running room for international oil companies seeking to add offshore Ireland to their 'core area' portfolio's,'' commented Fastnet's managing director Paul Griffiths.

Story from RTÉ News:
http://www.rte.ie/news/business/2013...ial-confirmed/
Fastnet Oil & Gas PLC - Increase in Resources Estimates in Shanagarry
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Old April 23rd, 2013, 06:29 PM   #166
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Providence Resources starts Dunquin drilling
Updated: 09:30, Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Drilling at Dunquin site expected to last several months

Exploration firm Providence Resources has started drilling on the Dunquin well, off the west coast of Ireland.

The drilling operations are expected to take several months to complete and the Eirik Raude semi-submersible drilling unit is being used for the work.

''This is a landmark well given that it is the first to be drilled in the central part of the deep-water southern Porcupine Basin and is designed to test a new and potentially material Lower Cretaceous carbonate exploration play concept,'' commented the company's chief executive Tony O'Reilly.

''The well is the second of six wells being drilled as part of Providence's Irish concerted multi-basin, multi-well drilling programme which kicked off in November 2011 with the Barryroe appraisal well,'' he added.

Providence holds a 16% interest in the well, which is operated by ExxonMobil who has a 27.5% equity interest in the site. Other co-venturers are Eni with a 27.5% stake, Repsol with a 25% stake and Sosina with a 4% stake.

Story from RTÉ News:
http://www.rte.ie/news/business/2013...urces-dunquin/
Providence Resources - Operational Update, Dunquin Well: Drilling Operations Commence
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Old May 8th, 2013, 06:44 PM   #167
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Providence reports ''landmark'' year despite higher losses
Updated: 10:49, Wednesday, 08 May 2013


Providence Resources says it is now debt free

Exploration company Providence Resources has reported an operating loss for the year of just over €5.4m, an increase on the operating loss of €4.07m reported last year.

The loss is a result of higher administration expenses related to its drilling operations, including the Barryroe field off the Cork coast which has significant oil and gas potential.

Providence posted a pre-tax loss of €8.2m for the year to the end of December - which the company described as 'a landmark year'.

The company also paid down all its debt from the proceeds of the sale of its UK onshore assets. Over the past 18 months, Providence reduced its debt levels by about €75m and it said it is now debt free.

See how Providence shares are doing in Dublin trade

“2012 was a truly transformational year for Providence, with the most notable event being the successful drilling and well testing on the Barryroe oil field in the Celtic Sea Basin, the first well in our multi-basin drilling campaign offshore Ireland,'' commented the company's chief executive Tony O'Reilly.

He said that the Barryroe test results in March came in far above all pre-drill expectations and the post-well analysis has confirmed the true potential of Barryroe.

Mr O'Reilly said that Providence had always believed in the material hydrocarbon prospectivity of offshore Ireland, adding that the success at Barryroe has firmly validated this view.

''We therefore feel extremely well placed to capitalise on the positive momentum that we have built up in 2012, and to firmly embrace the advances in technology, infrastructure, the fiscal regime and higher oil prices in order to unlock the hydrocarbon potential offshore Ireland,'' he added.

Story from RTÉ News:
http://www.rte.ie/news/business/2013...nce-resources/
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Old May 15th, 2013, 10:42 AM   #168
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Government reviewing tax on oil, gas exploration
Updated: 09:10, Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte has said an examination of tax rates for oil and gas exploration was being done to try to attract more investment offshore to increase the level of prospectivity.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland programme, Mr Rabbitte said he did not think Ireland was very much out of line with other countries in terms of rates and he said very high rates would deter exploration.

Mr Rabbitte said the alternative of setting up a State exploration company was not possible as Ireland did not have the money.

Mr Rabbitte’s comments came as Sinn Féin proposed new legislation seeking up to 80% tax on major Irish oil and gas discoveries.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Michael Colreavy said the party favoured a new tax regime which collected a graduated range of higher taxes from companies involved in oil and gas production but which did not discourage other companies which specialised in exploration.

Under Sinn Féin's plan, taxes on petroleum finds would rise depending on the size of the energy discovery.

Ireland currently applies a 25% corporation tax levy on petroleum firms while oil and gas field profits are hit with a graduated series of tax bands from 0-15%.

Mr Colreavy said that the party had not fixed a specific value for a major discovery. The proposed tax increase would not be retrospective and would only apply to future petroleum finds, he said.

Story from RTÉ News:
http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/0515/392...s-exploration/
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Quote:
Rabbitte: No point comparing Ireland’s oil prospects to Norway’s

The Minister for Communication and Natural Resources has said a Norwegian-style 80 per cent tax on oil finds would not work, saying: “We’re comparing apples with oranges.”



THE COMMUNICATIONS AND Natural Resources Minister Pat Rabbitte has said that comparisons between Ireland’s oil prospects and those in Norway, which has an 80 per cent tax on oil profits, is like “comparing apple and oranges”.

Rabbitte said that while he would review Ireland’s lower tax rate on oil and gas profits, it was not reasonable to compare Ireland with Norway and said that the country could not afford to carry out its own offshore drilling.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland: “It costs between €80 and €100 million a pop to drill a well off the Irish offshore.

“The Irish state doesn’t have that kind of money and therefore we are dependent on attracting the private industry to spend the money.”

The Minister said that exploration companies have already spent some €5 billion “for little enough return”.

Hopes that Ireland could begin a path of energy independence – it has one of the lowest in the EU – emerged last year after Providence Resources said that it found billions of barrels of oil off the Cork coast.

Last night the Dáil debated a 12-month-old report by an Oireachtas committee into offshore oil and gas exploration which recommended adjusting Ireland’s top corporate tax rate on offshore drilling profits from 25 per cent to as much as 80 per cent, as is the case in Norway.

But on RTÉ this morning, Rabbitte said: “I think it’s a pity that this canard about Norway has been flown and has captured some imagination.

“The truth of the matter is it is the unique geological advantage that Norway has where you can expect a [oil] strike in four as compared to three strikes here from 156 drilling, it is that level of prospectivity that means that you can have that level of tax.”

He said that comparisons to Norway were like “comparing apples with oranges” and said that people who were responsible for this comparison “should have recanted but didn’t”.

TheJournal.ie
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Old May 18th, 2013, 02:05 PM   #169
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Quote:
Bord Gáis Networks considers €200m cost of interconnectors

Barry O'Halloran

Last Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013, 22:47


State company Bord Gáis Networks is to investigate whether there is a need to invest €200 million in re-engineering its interconnectors with Britain so they can be used to export natural gas from Ireland.

The company, part of the Bord Gáis group, owns and operates two pipelines connecting Ireland with Britain that are used to import over 90 per cent of the natural gas used here.

Neither of the lines, built at a total cost of €600 million, can be used to export gas from here, as when they were built in 1993 and 2003, the Government was focused on securing supplies to meet high projected demand. It would require an investment of €200 million to allow gas to flow from Ireland.


Summer assessment
An Bord Gáis and National Grid, which operates the British gas network, plan to carry out an assessment this summer to establish if there is a demand for this. A previous consultation in 2011 concluded that it was not needed.

According to a spokesman for Bord Gáis Networks, its British counterpart did not believe it would be needed as the country had its own gas reserves in the North Sea, as well as a number of pipelines connecting it with supply points in Europe.

The spokesman said it would not be possible to speculate on the outcome of this year’s assessment. “If there is demand for it, the bottom line is that is going to cost €200 million and that will have to be paid for.”

British gas supplies ran dangerously low towards the end of March as a result of the longer than usual winter, sparking fears a shortage was imminent.

At one point, prices spiked to £1.50 a unit – about three times the norm – in London following a brief interruption to supplies caused by technical problems.

A decision would have ramifications for a number of natural gas projects. The Shell-operated Corrib field, which holds enough of the fuel to supply Irish needs for up to 15 years, is due to come on stream late next year or in early 2015.


Cheap US imports
US multinational Hess is planning to build a liquid natural gas storage facility at Shannon, which would open the Irish market up to cheap imports from America.

Over the longer term, exploration company Providence, believes there are large quantities of natural gas in the Barryroe licence area off the south coast, which is close to pipelines from the original Kinsale field.

© 2013 irishtimes.com
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 11:10 AM   #170
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Fastnet Oil and Gas eyes Deep Kinsale oil potential
Updated: 09:16, Wednesday, 22 May 2013


Fastnet Oil and Gas holds 60% stake in deep Kinsale

Exploration firm Fastnet Oil and Gas has said there could be a significant amount of oil in the Celtic Sea, immediately below the Kinsale gas field.

The company holds a 60% stake in deep Kinsale if it commits to a well before the end of September 2015.

Fastnet said it completed its 500km 3D seismic acquisition under the Kinsale field ''significantly'' ahead of schedule and under budget.

This will be used to further refine the work started by the analysis of the 2D data. It will be applied to increasing the chance of geological success.

Data so far suggests the field may contain up to 2.365 billion barrels of oil in place.

''While there is always inherent risk associated with early stage exploration, we believe that our successful efforts to de-risk the assets will allow us to achieve our objectives of creating significant value through initial drilling and securing a strategic farm-out transaction,'' commented Paul Griffiths, managing director of Fastnet.

''In line with this approach we are working to ensure that a potential farm-in well, combined with high quality 3D seismic definition of structure and reservoir “sweet spots”, delivers the results necessary for an economically viable pilot development at today’s oil prices,'' he added.

John Craven, a founder shareholder of Fastnet, said that Deep Kinsale is a large ''anticlinal structure, which has the potential to contain a significant oil accumulation directly beneath the producing Kinsale gas field and the two platforms, in the Celtic Sea''.

Story from RTÉ News:
http://www.rte.ie/news/business/2013...t-oil-and-gas/
Fastnet Oil & Gas plc - Operational Update, Scoping Independent Resource Estimates and Forward Program for Deep Kinsale
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Old June 4th, 2013, 09:04 PM   #171
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Seismic survey gets green light
Tuesday, June 04, 2013

By Ed Carty

The green light has been given for a major seismic survey off Ireland’s Atlantic coast to assess the true potential for oil and gas resources.

The €20m analysis will cover 18,000km from Rockall and Hatton basins off the north-west to the Southern Porcupine off the south-west.

Fergus O’Dowd, junior minister responsible for natural resources, granted approval for the 2D survey.

“At a cost of €20m this is by far the largest regional seismic survey acquired in the Irish offshore, and will provide a regional grid of high-quality seismic data over Ireland’s frontier basins,” he said.

Mr O’Dowd said that the plan would fill data gaps off the Atlantic coast.

“Most importantly, the survey should go a long way towards revealing the true oil and gas potential of Ireland’s frontier basins,” he said.

“The data should allow resource potential to be predicted with much greater confidence and enable both the industry and the Government to adequately evaluate future licensing opportunities.”

The survey will be undertaken by ENI Ireland in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in Atlantic waters of the Irish-designated continental shelf.

The vessel BGP Explorer, operating from Killybegs, will conduct the analysis over 145 days.

The first reports from the survey are expected in 2014.

The cost is being jointly met by the department and interested industry.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
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Old June 9th, 2013, 09:37 PM   #172
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State’s only oil refinery put up for sale
Friday, June 07, 2013
The future of Ireland’s only oil refinery, Whitegate in East Cork, is in jeopardy after being put up for sale by its owners, who are also selling the massive oil storage terminal in Bantry Bay.



By Conor Keane, Business Editor
Phillips 66 has appointed Deutsche Bank to handle the sale of the strategic assets at Whitegate and Bantry, in West Cork, with a target to complete the sale by the end of the year.

The company’s US-based spokesman Rich Johnson said: “Phillips 66 intends to continue operating the assets as usual during the marketing process, which is expected to last for several months.”

While the Whitegate facility is perfectly positioned to process any oil recovered from the Barryroe and Dunquin fields, industry sources suggest the refinery when sold could be closed as a refining facility and used as an oil products distribution base for fuels such as imported petrol and diesel.

In March, Phillips 66 executive vice-president Larry Ziemba told a Bank of America-Merrill Lynch conference the Irish refining operation was neither sophisticated nor competitive. “We’ve got a refinery in Ireland that is small, and not sophisticated. It really can’t compete in Europe,” he said.

The Whitegate refinery began operations in 1959 and supplies one third of the country’s transportation fuels — processing 71,000 barrels of crude oil a day — employing 155 people full-time and up to 100 contractors on an ad hoc basis.

Phillips 66 also operates a crude oil and refined products terminal employing 27 people with 7.5m barrels of storage in Bantry Bay. The National Oil Reserves Agency (NORA) is a major long-term customer, making the facility of national strategic importance.

At present, Whitegate produces a range of petroleum products, including unleaded petrol, auto diesel, central heating oils, and liquid petroleum gas. It also blends biofuels.

The Department of En-ergy and Natural Resources was queried last night on the impact of the sale of the two facilities on NORA and government policy but had not responded at the time of going to press.

However, earlier this year, the department said the Government was committed to enhancing energy security and to delivering national renewable energy and energy efficiency objectives aimed at moving the economy away from reliance on imported fossil fuels.

“The day-to-day operation of the refinery is a matter for the current owners, Phillips 66, and the department is continuing to engage with Phillips 66 regarding their future plans for the Irish business. The department is also participating in the wider debate at EU level as to the future of the European oil refining sector through the Oil Refining Roadmap process,” a spokesperson said in March.

“Ireland continues to be dependent on oil and natural gas to meet its energy needs and in that regard Whitegate refinery remains an important element of Ireland’s overall oil supply infrastructure.”

The first oil production from the Barryroe oil field, off the coast of Cork, could start within “three to four years” according to Tony O’Reilly jr, chief executive of Providence Resources.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 09:28 PM   #173
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Exploration blow as Exxon to leave Irish waters after offshore drill fails

PETER FLANAGAN – 23 JULY 2013

IRELAND'S hopes of becoming a centre for oil and gas exploration received a hammer blow yesterday after drilling for a potentially huge oil or gas field in the Atlantic apparently failed and the world's biggest company said it would not drill around Ireland again.

Exxon, which had been drilling an exploration well at the Dunquin North licence off the west coast of the country, said it did not recover any "commercially viable hydrocarbons" from the well.

It will therefore be plugged, and Exxon does not plan to drill again around Ireland "for the foreseeable future".

The decision to effectively quit Ireland is a huge blow to hopes that explorers may want to drill in Irish waters and potentially create a windfall for the Exchequer.

Hydrocarbons

Dunquin, which is in the Porcupine Basin about 150km off Kerry, had long been seen as the prize asset for Irish oil and gas with potentially huge reserves of hydrocarbons.

When Exxon began drilling on the licence in April it was one of the most anticipated moves in Irish exploration history. However, Exxon said yesterday that while some residual oil had been found in the well, it was not in large enough quantities to warrant continuing drilling.

"It is disappointing that the Dunquin prospect has proved to be water bearing, with no commercially recoverable hydrocarbons," said ExxonMobil's European exploration director Kevin Biddle.

"This project had a higher level of risk and a higher reward, which unfortunately was unsuccessful. This result underlines the uncertain nature of deepwater exploration," he added.

Exxon had a 25.5pc share in the well, while Eni and Respol hold 27.5pc and 25pc respectively.

Industry sources, however, suggested the full data from the well was much more positive than negative, and there was said to be some frustration within the consortium over the level of information on Dunquin that was released publicly.

Dublin's Providence Resources holds 16pc in the site, and that company's shares were hammered yesterday, falling as much as 10pc before recovering somewhat.

In a statement, Providence boss Tony O'Reilly Jr said the well "had demonstrated that all of the key components of a working petroleum system exist in the southern Porcupine Basin.

"These data are encouraging not just for the adjacent Dunquin South prospect, but also for the basin in general", he added.

Dunquin South is operated by Exxon, and Providence has a 16pc stake in the licence. Despite the apparent failure, analysts were still positive about the drilling results.

Davy Stockbrokers, who is a house broker to Providence, said the results would de-risk the Dunquin south project.

"Evidence of a possible residual oil column in good quality carbonate reservoir indicates that all the elements of working petroleum system are present in the basin. In particular, the presence of oil in the south Porcupine significantly de-risks the basin," said Davy's Job Langbroek.

"This bodes well for Providence's other prospects/targets in the region," he added.

Independent.ie
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Old July 23rd, 2013, 09:47 PM   #174
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Dreadful blow! Dunquin could have been the game changer. A lot of money went down the swanie for nothing.

I note the that they are still proceeding with the much deeper Dunquin South prospect, but given that's its adjacent field its now hardly going to be a bonanza.

A lot of the hype is redolent of the Atlantic resources saga in the 1980s.

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Old July 23rd, 2013, 10:59 PM   #175
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More bad news
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Old July 31st, 2013, 12:22 PM   #176
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Quote:
“Difficult to justify” oil refinery in Ireland – study

The study, commissioned by a government department, said that overall oil demand has declined since 2006.

A STUDY INTO the case for an oil refinery in Ireland has found that the country doesn’t need to have one as it can import enough to meet its needs.

Plans have recently been announced to sell country’s sole oil refinery plant, Whitegate. The new study was commissioned by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

Demand

The study noted that overall oil demand has declined since peaking at 11.8 million tonnes in 2006 for the island of Ireland. After falling between 2007 and 2009, current demand for refined products is estimated to have risen to 9.8 million tonnes. It sees moderate future growth in oil demand reaching between 9 and 10 million tonnes per year by 2030.

It has forecast there will be a shift in demand for transport fuel from gasoline to diesel.

The study says that it does not foresee oil demand returning to the peak levels seen in the last decade.

“Our outlook for oil demand would not in itself support a need for increased refinery production over that seen in the past.”

In conclusion, the report says that the strategic case for refining on the island of Ireland is “not a simplistic choice between having or not having a refining asset”.

Changing circumstances

It noted that Whitegate refinery has adapted to changing circumstances since it was constructed. However, it is challenging to envisage a case whereby the refinery could economically and competitively assume a primary role in satisfying the majority of oil demand on the island, said the study.

It said it is difficult to justify an ideally sized refinery even if it was located within the area of highest demand. This is due to a number of reasons, including that oil demand is forecast to remain stable and, if policies are realised, to ultimately decline substantially below current levels.

Plus, Ireland has for some time sourced the majority of its oil through imports.

A process of consolidation is underway within the European refining market, and also there appears to be little appetite at European level to consider Ireland a a special case for needing its own refining assets.

“There is no imperative for the island of Ireland to have its own refining assets and the current infrastructure would be capable of supplying the required product imports.”

It also said that if Whitegate ceased operations as a refinery, it could continue as a terminal at its current level of inland throughput.

The study recommends the oil supply infrastructure on the island of Ireland should be kept under regular review.

Minister Rabbitte

Speaking to Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1, Minister Pat Rabbitte said that there is an agreement that places an obligation on Whitegate until 2016 to continue to provide product for the domestic market. He said that the department felt it was important to be proactive and take expert advice from international consultants at this stage as to whether the country continues to need its own refinery.

The Minister noted that five years ago, 46 per cent of Ireland’s necessary stocks were outside of Ireland, whereas now we have 73 per cent of the stocks in Ireland.

He said that he doesn’t know whether or not the owners of Whitegate will be successful or not in trying to sell it. If they don’t sell it, “I presume life goes on as before”, he said.

Whitegate is a private company and has legal contracts with the Government.

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Old August 7th, 2013, 12:00 PM   #177
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Debate about oil resources should begin with the facts

Barry O'Halloran

Last Updated: Monday, August 5, 2013, 17:26



“Unlike Norway, we can’t afford to underwrite exploration. However, the Government is jointly funding a €15 million survey with Italian oil giant Eni of the Republic’s undersea geology.”

ExxonMobil’s announcement last week that it plans to abandon its search for oil and gas off the west coast looked like a blow to hopes for a fresh wave of petroleum exploration in Irish waters.

However, at least eight other, albeit lesser known, companies are stepping up activity in the same region, indicating that the industry is prepared to roll the dice here at least a few more times. Government estimates say that there may be 10 billion barrels of oil and natural gas lying beneath the seabed off our coast. The figure is often cited in the on-off debate about the supposedly generous licensing terms we offer oil companies, most recently by a movement, fronted by consumer champion Eddie Hobbs, Own Our Oil.

The Republic taxes oil and gas production profits at 25 per cent. On top of that, there is a resource rent with a ceiling of 15 per cent, so a very lucrative field would pay 40 per cent. The charges only apply after deducting costs, which run into billions. By the end of 2011, Shell and its partners had spent €2.5 billion on developing the Corrib field.

Much of the debate has so far been along the lines of “the Government is giving away our oil and gas to greedy corporate interests for a song”. But this is not an accurate reflection of the facts.

Advocates of a higher tax point to Norway, where oil and gas profits are taxed at 78 per cent. The problem with this argument is that 78 per cent of zero is zero. Vast quantities of oil and gas are not flowing ashore from wells dotted around our coast.

There has been just one significant find here since 1975. Our one existing field, Kinsale, is near the end of its life. Shell hopes to bring Corrib into production next year. Barryroe, a potentially commercial find by Irish firm Providence Resources, is a long way from producing anything.

Refunded expenses

The odds against striking commercial oil or gas in Irish waters are 32/1. In Norway they are 6/1 and in the UK 5/1. Since 2005, Norway has refunded 78 per cent of expenses incurred where exploration drilling fails to find anything and it allows companies to write off 130 per cent of their costs before it taxes profits.

These terms, combined with the high strike rate, ensure that Norway is a far more profitable destination than the Republic. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, Making the Most of Our Natural Resources, showed that every €1 invested there returns €15, while in the Republic, a comparable ratio would be €1 to €5.

The report, which Providence commissioned, bases its calculations on a one in 33 strike rate and exploration costs of €60 million. That is on the low side. The bill for drilling in Ireland’s Atlantic margin is said by the industry to be €1 million a day. And the exercise could last for two, three or more months, so it would not be unreasonable to calculate those expenses at €120 million.

Ireland is a high-cost, high-risk destination for the oil industry. This deters companies from coming here. Only 6 per cent of the total area offered in the last licensing round, in 2011, was taken up. None of those that bid were household names. Overall, the industry’s big players are poorly represented here.

Just six of the top 50 – Shell, Statoil, Exxon, Eni, Petronas and Repsol – have interests in Irish licences, whereas about half of them are active in Norway and the UK.

Only 3 per cent of the State’s offshore area is under licence, according to the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association (IOOA), which also notes that just 130 exploration wells have been drilled there over the last 50 years, compared to 1,000 in Norway and 2,000 in the UK. This creates a vicious circle: the less you drill, the less likely you are to find something, the less attractive your territory becomes for exploration, and so on.

The IOOA’s chairman, Fergus Cahill, last week argued that more exploration could lead to more discoveries and an improved strike rate. Assuming this is so, and the Government’s estimates of what is lying beneath the seabed are true, then we need more exploration.

There are really two steps to this. The first is working out how to encourage that exploration. Unlike Norway, we can’t afford to underwrite exploration. However, the Government is jointly funding a €15 million survey with Italian oil giant Eni of the Republic’s undersea geology. Its results will be made available to the industry. They should mitigate some of the up-front costs by giving companies a focus for more detailed work.

The next step is deciding clearly what we want if there are large commercial quantities of oil out there.

Industry’s right to profit

Within that, we need to balance our right to a decent return from these resources with the industry’s right to profit from them, and work out how else we can maximise the wealth that they could potentially create.

So the Government needs to decide if it wants to charge tax, rent and/or royalties, at what rate, or participate directly.

When Norway’s first commercial field was discovered in 1969, its government drew up “10 commandments” to govern how its oil would be exploited. They required that the oil be landed there and an industry developed alongside it.

Such a rule would deliver obvious benefits here, but it would need infrastructure such as refineries and so on. The battle sparked by the Corrib field’s development, and the planning law failure highlighted by the judicial review of the foreshore licence granted to Providence for exploration off Dalkey, gives an idea of the challenges that this would involve.

These issues need to be weighed up in any debate. We should have that debate now, but it needs to start with the facts, not with emotive arguments about poor oppressed Ireland giving away her petroleum wealth for a song.

Barry O’Halloran is a journalist with The Irish Times

© 2013 irishtimes.com
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Old August 7th, 2013, 06:37 PM   #178
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Best to wait a few years until demand is huge and prices higher and the country has a bit of money to spend. A good few years that is than.
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Old September 9th, 2013, 11:24 AM   #179
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Fatal accident at site of Corrib gas tunnel
Updated: 07:08, Monday, 09 September 2013

Gardaí and the Health & Safety Authority are investigating the death of a man at the Corrib gas tunnel in Aughoose, Co Mayo.

The 26-year-old German man sustained head injuries while working as part of a maintenance support crew just before 9am on Sunday.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

His body was taken to Mayo General Hospital for a post mortem examination.

The Wayss & Freytag BAM Civil Joint Venture, which runs the operation, said the man was working for subcontractors Herrenknecht.

The group said all operations have been suspended at the site as the investigations are carried out.

It has offered its condolences to the dead man's family.

Shell E&P Ireland has also expressed its condolences to his family and co-workers.

Story from RTÉ News:
http://www.rte.ie/news/2013/0908/472969-corrib/
R.I.P.
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Old September 15th, 2013, 10:40 AM   #180
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Just four commercial gas discoveries since the 70s but minister remains positive

Junior miniser Fergus O’Dowd has said that the state should provide an environment that encourages companies to take the risks involved in exploration.

JUNIOR MINISTER FERGUS O’Dowd has said that it is important that the State provides the right environment to encourage private companies to invest in oil and gas exploration in Ireland.

There have been just four commercial natural gas discoveries since exploration began offshore Ireland in the early 1970s. The four discoveries were in Kinsale, Ballycotton and Sevenheads, producing gas fields off the coast of Cork and the Corrib gas field off the Mayo coast.

To date, there have been no commercial discoveries of oil but the government is remaining positive about our prospects.

In response to a parliamentary question, O’Dowd said that despite the low level of commercial discoveries to date, “working petroleum systems are known to exist in many of Ireland’s offshore basins, as demonstrated by a number of non-commercial discoveries as well as other oil and gas indicators such as hydrocarbon shows in wells”.

Corrib

Ireland currently imports approximately 95 per cent of its natural gas needs and 100 per cent of its oil requirements. According to O’Dowd, successful development of our indigenous resources would contribute to significantly reducing dependence on imported supply.

He said it is estimated that construction of the onshore section of the pipeline a the Corrib development will take in the region of three years and first gas cannot be anticipated before 2014.

“In its first four to five years of production, the Corrib Gas Field Development is expected to provide 60 per cent to 65 per cent of Ireland’s natural gas needs,” O’Dowd said.

The right environment for companies

The junior minister added that it is important that the State provides the right environment “to encourage private industry to take the risk associated with investing in exploration” in a number of ways including;
  • Offering attractive and innovative licensing opportunities, such as the 2011 Atlantic Margin licensing round;
  • Providing a fit-for-purpose, transparent and robust regulatory regime;
  • Deepening knowledge of our offshore petroleum potential, in particular through data acquisition and supporting key research projects;
  • Actively promoting the opportunity to invest in exploration in the Irish offshore, in particular to companies not currently active here.
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