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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
# Exploration
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”.


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.

Read: €20 million seismic survey hopes to reveal Ireland’s true oil and gas wealth>

Read: Rabbitte thinks fracking could be good for Ireland – but only if it’s safe enough>

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