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 Ireland 'close to oil billions'

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PostSubject: Ireland 'close to oil billions'   Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:52 pm

Ireland 'close to oil billions'

By Andy Martin
BBC Ireland reporter

Barryroe off County Cork could yield 280m barrels, Providence says
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Ireland is on the verge of securing revenue from oil that could run into billions of pounds.

Providence Resources Plc, an Irish and UK company, has confirmed its Barryroe site, 30 miles off the Cork coast, should yield 280m barrels of oil.

The money generated will depend on the market value at the time of extraction and on licensing arrangements.

Providence chief executive Tony O'Reilly Jr said this was the beginning of an Irish oil industry.

He described it as a huge success story, following decades of exploration around the Irish coast.

"The great news today is that Barryroe is on a path towards development," he told BBC Northern Ireland's Good Morning Ulster.

Mr O'Reilly said more work needed to be done and issues such as taxation revenue, security of supply and jobs needed to be addressed.

But he said: "What we are announcing is the beginning of that (oil) industry.

"We hope there is a renaissance of interest by international companies who need to come to Ireland and help us to exploit our natural resources. We cannot do it alone."

Mr O'Reilly said the oil recovery rate at Barryroe had exceeded expectations and, with oil at about $100 per barrel (77 euros; £62.5) it offered "a lot of value".

He was also swift to reject critics' suggestions that Ireland would have little role in the industry and oil would not be landed there.

"We intend to utilise the structure of Ireland. We have been very clear in that regard. It makes good business sense for us. It is mad that we would take it elsewhere," he said.
Exxon Mobil

Providence intends to attract multi-national energy giants to "farm in" to its licence, which it bought from the Irish government for a nominal fee.

The company has already secured the expertise of the world's leading oil multi-national, Exxon Mobil, to explore its site at Drumquin.

However, campaigners have said that Ireland's relaxed laws with regard to its natural resources ought to be overhauled.

Ireland takes 25% of all profits, rising to 40% depending on the volume extracted.

Ireland's Energy Minister Pat Rabbitte concedes that the take is much lower than in the UK, or Norway, both of which have much greater resources of oil and gas.

But he says that the rate must remain attractive to foreign companies as Ireland does not have the expertise or revenue to exploit the reserves itself.

Others point out that all exploration costs can be off-set against any tax liable ones, and that a claim can go back as far as 25 years.

Providence is believed to have spent £0.5bn exploring Irish waters.

Campaigners like William Hederman, of Irishoilandgas.com, have warned that the oil from Barryroe may never be landed in Ireland, but instead taken for refinement to Europe or beyond, meaning fewer jobs on Irish soil.

And the Irish Green Party has also expressed reservations.
Environmental concerns

In July, its leader Eamon Ryan said he was wary of quoted figures over oil resources which had not yet been tested.

"Oil may be there but there is a limit on how much you can get out, and this is still only a tiny fraction of what would be used," he said.

"Like any drilling at sea, there are risks to it - the highest standards need to be applied."

The RSPB has also voiced concerns about any potential oil extraction around Rathlin Island, off County Antrim, a Special Area of Conservation and a Special Protection Area (SPA), which it argues is too important for wildlife to allow that to happen.

It says the potential impact of oil drilling on Rathlin Island has not been fully explored.

Meanwhile, Providence says its intention is to take the oil from Barryroe to Cork, but that it is a decision that will be made on a commercial basis closer to the time of extraction.

Some 25% in revenue of what is potentially billions of pounds worth of oil will, however, be a huge boost to a country which has never successfully extracted a drop of oil in the past.
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PostSubject: Re: Ireland 'close to oil billions'   Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:56 pm

It's good news but this is a comparatively small find and they don't say whether its oil "in place" or oil that is actually recoverable.

There has been much exploration around Ireland for 30 years but while the occasional commercial find turns up it is very unlikely that this is the birth of a major new oil province.

All the same, it is a nice boost to the Irish economy in difficult times
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PostSubject: Ireland's first oil well to yield 4,000 barrels per day    Wed Oct 10, 2012 11:59 pm

Ireland's first oil well to yield 4,000 barrels per day

Drilling at Barryroe oil well is yielding double the amount of oil anticipated
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Petroleum search over Rathlin
Quest for oil in Northern Ireland

An Irish company says it has found the Republic's first viable oil well.

Oil exploration company Providence Resources says it has made the discovery 70km off the Cork coast.

The firm said its exploratory Barryroe oil well delivered double the amount of oil needed for future full-scale extraction to make commercial sense.

The exploratory well yielded almost 4,000 barrels of oil a day. Providence Resources Plc also has drilling permits in Northern Ireland.

The company will now seek international investors to help it exploit the well and the surrounding field, which the firm hopes will contain many further viable wells.

The company's technical director, John O'Sullivan, said: "Oil was discovered by Esso in the 1970s, but it was never commercial, as oil prices were a lot lower.

"The oil price has gone from $10 to $15 a barrel to $125 a barrel.

"Our target was 1,800 barrels from this well. So we drilled and we got 3,500 barrels, which is twice our target for a commercial threshold. This has far exceeded what we expected."

Providence chief executive Tony O'Reilly Jr paid tribute to the team for delivering such a successful outcome within what he described as "a challenging 15-month timeline".

"We are a company who have been doing this for 30 years. We are not in any way fly-by-nights coming in to make money and get out.

"We will bring in partners to co-venture with us, but ultimately we are doing a drilling programme."

Talking about the possibility of drilling off the north coast, near Rathlin island, Mr O'Reilly said: "We are very encouraged about that. We would be looking to do our exploration programme there. Obviously, we have to go through a consultative process and we have started to do that. It is a major interest area for us."

Providence assumed operatorship of the Barryroe oil well in late 2010.

BBC business correspondent Joe Lynam said: "This is Ireland's very first commercially viable well. They have found lots of little things in the past, but not something that can be translated into hard dollars."

Mr Lynam said that following the announcement on Thursday, the company's shares rose by 18%.
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PostSubject: Re: Ireland 'close to oil billions'   Thu Oct 11, 2012 12:11 am

Quest for oil in Northern Ireland has its cost
By Andy Martin
BBC Ireland reporter

On Rathlin island, Irish oil and gas company Providence is searching for fuel
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"This is like Chad putting a man on the moon, it's just not going to happen," said controversial columnist and writer Kevin Myers.

"£3bn has been wasted exploring Irish waters for oil, and nobody has found anything, because it is not there."

He may be right. Not one drop of Irish oil has been extracted since the speculators arrived in the 1960s.

So how might the cluster of relatively new companies currently searching the Irish coast on the same quest be explained?

They hope to prove Mr Myers wrong, and some are already making money despite the fact that they have not filled one barrel or canister to date.

Four exploration licences are currently being operated in Northern Ireland. Not a lot of people know that.

In fact many of those living in the areas where drilling is proposed, claim to have been taken by surprise when news of the very existence of a licence was revealed.

In the west, an Australian mining company called Tamboran is searching for shale gas. It is a controversial process.
'Flammable tap water'

'Fracking' or hydraulic fracturing of the rock has in some cases, brought incredible consequences.

Many residents inspired by stories of flammable tap water following the process, are opposed to the plans.

The company has promised not to use chemicals, the first time such a technique has been attempted.

In County Antrim, English company Infrastrata have a license to explore for oil.

Islandmagee residents are twitchy.

They already have Ballylumford electricity station, but simultaneous plans to excavate huge gas storage caverns deep under the salt bed, have prompted anglers and fishermen to ask how marine life can survive, if the salt pumped out of the caverns is deposited around Larne.

Up the road, a hole has already been drilled by Rathlin Oil, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm Connaught Energy.

The results collated at the bottom of that bore hole remain secret, as is the company's right under the terms of the license.

On Rathlin island, Irish oil and gas company Providence is searching for fuel too.

They have a license to explore for oil and gas on the island, and have applied to explore on the seas around it too.

Providence is owned by the O'Reilly family, of independent News and Media, and owners of the Belfast Telegraph.

So what will this mean? The short answer is that nobody seems quite sure.

Providence and Infrastrata declined to be interviewed by the BBC.

However, an analysis of financial data and research into past comments made by Providence provide an indication.

A licence secured in 2004 for the Porcupine basin off the south west coast of Ireland by Providence is now operated by the world's largest energy company.

A licence like this is granted for a nominal fee.

When Providence managed to attract Exxon Mobile onto its permit, the company's share price rocketed.

Eighty per cent of the licence was handed to the multi-national. What was previously an Irish license granted to an Irish owned company, is now under the control of a cluster of big businesses.

Could that happen in Rathlin?


"Only with the approval of the Department of Trade and Enterprise", says Derek Reay, of Geological Survey Northern Ireland.

The BBC asked the Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster for the parameters under which such a decision might be made. We received no response.

Oil industry sources have also questioned whether any oil discovery will lead to an industrial benefit for Northern Ireland.
Profits

William Hederman, a journalist and campaigner has been told by Providence that it is likely that any oil discovered in their Dalkey prospect off Dublin will never land in Ireland.

Refineries in England or Europe seem more likely to get the business.

The benefit of course, will be the predominant preserve of the London Exchequer.

Current rules dictate that any profits will be taxed at around 62%.

A further 7.4% will filter back to Northern Ireland, through the department of trade and enterprise.

Unlike other parts of the UK though, the Northern Ireland Executive does not charge any land rental, something Mr Reay says "could perhaps be looked at".

The maths however are straightforward.

Northern Ireland has no proven resource or ability to extract.

Therefore companies with the expertise must be given incentive to spend in exploration.

As such, a licence costs just £1,000, regardless of how much a company may make through obtaining one.

As Richard Moorman or Tamboran put it, "if this doesn't work, we leave $100m dollars worse off"
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PostSubject: Rathlin's wildlife could be threatened by oil drilling   Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:20 am

Rathlin's wildlife could be threatened by oil drilling

Rathlin Island is one of 43 Special Areas of Conservation in Northern Ireland

Rathlin Island's birds could be threatened by plans to drill for oil off its coast, the RSPB has said.

The island is one of 43 Special Areas of Conservation in Northern Ireland and is home to tens of thousands of seabirds.

The area around it has been identified as a potential site for oil exploration in the latest round of government licensing.

If approved, the RSPB is worried it could lead to full-scale extraction.

James Robinson, director of the RSPB NI, said it was a "very bad decision".

"The RSPB is really asking the UK government not to license oil and gas exploration in these areas as they are too important for wildlife, and the damage that could be done because of the activities that would occur because of oil drilling would be absolutely massive," he said.

"If I was someone living in Ballycastle or Rathlin, the last thing I would want to see in the future is thousands of young puffins washing up on the beaches there.

"It would be an awful, awful situation."
'Poor decisions'

As Rathlin is a Special Area of Conservation, (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA), the UK government has to undertake an appropriate assessment of potential impacts and mitigation measures.

Mr Robinson said decisions are being made on "poor data".

"This industry isn't safe - and a lot of the information that that we have suggests that they have not really explored what are the actual impacts and how they would be able to mitigate those impacts in the future," he added.

Dr Philip Griffiths, an energy specialist from the University of Ulster, admitted there were "risks associated with any of these activities".

"It's just a licence application at present and while the energy company may have quite detailed plans, the only information available is that these are blocks of the seabed that are open for negotiation for people to bid for and then to set about drilling," he added.

"Tankers sailing by Rathlin heading for the North Sea are just as much of a danger to the habitat as any drilling exercise."
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