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Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Providence surrenders licence for site off coast of Dublin

The company said the government in 1999 failed to transpose EU legislation into law which left it open to legal challenges.

OIL AND GAS exploration company Providence Resources has announced today that it has surrendered its Foreshore Licence that was granted over an area off the coast of Dublin.

The licence had been awarded over the Kish Bank Basin, near Dalkey, by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in September 2012. It permitted the company to carry out a well site survey and drill an exploration well in the area.

In a statement today the company said the decision to surrender the licence was made following discussions with the department when it became clear that there were “certain elements” of the EU, EIA Directive that were not transposed correctly into law in 1999 by the government.

The lack of clarity on this issue meant that the licence, and subsequent exploration activities, could have been subjected to ongoing legal challenges and undue delays.

Last month, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan proposed designating some of the waters due to be explored by the company as a special area to conserve reefs and the population of harbour porpoise.

The company said the decision now allows for the government to amend planning and environmental regulations to ensure that regulatory framework complies with the directive. Once this is done, Providence said it will then be in a position to submit a new application to progress operations in the Kish Bank area.

Tony O’Reilly, Chief Executive of Providence said the company itself complied with all environmental planning regulations in applying for and receiving the licence but the failure of the government of over a decade ago to place EU legislation into Irish law left it open to legal difficulties.

“Whilst it is frustrating that this situation has arisen and caused a delay to our planned activities, we feel it is in the best interests for all concerned to surrender the licence and allow the government to make the necessary amendments and we can then make a new application to carry out our planned programme,” he said. “Despite the delay to the planned drilling activities, we remain very excited about the potential of this exploration prospect.”

Read: Marine conservation area may be setback to Dalkey oil bid>

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