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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 29 November 2020
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€20 million seismic survey hopes to reveal Ireland's true oil and gas wealth

Offshore explorers have welcomed the new push to figure out exactly what may lie under Ireland’s western waters,

Image: Dabarti CGI via Shutterstock

THE GOVERNMENT is to undertake a €20 million seismic survey in an effort to shed further light on exactly how much oil and gas may lie off Irish waters.

The 2D survey will be the largest regional survey ever carried out in Irish waters, covering 18,000km in territory from the Rockall basin, off the north-west of Ireland, down to the Southern Porcupine off the south-west.

The junior minister responsible for natural resources, Fergus O’Dowd, said the survey would provide “a regional grid of high-quality seismic data over Ireland’s frontier basins”.

The survey is intended to ‘fill in the gaps’ of knowledge about the possibility of oil and gas reserves lying in particular regions off the Irish coast, including areas which have not yet been subject to any commercial exploration.

“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,” O’Dowd said.

Last week O’Dowd’s senior minister Pat Rabbitte told TheJournal.ie that he was considering asking for expert advice on whether the current commercial terms for exploration off Irish waters may need adjusting in order to entice more explorers to Irish waters.

A decision on whether to change the current system – where profits on gas and oil extraction are taxed at 25 per cent, minus the costs of the exploration effort – is likely to be deferred until after the new survey has been concluded.

The survey is to be undertaken jointly by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and by private operators ENI Ireland, which will provide technical support for the operation.

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This evening the Irish Offshore Operators’ Association welcomed the news of the survey, saying it would address a current shortcoming where only 5 per cent of Irish waters were under licence.

“It is interesting to point out that a very similar initiative by the New Zealand government played a significant role in accelerating exploration offshore New Zealand and it is to be hoped that the same will be achieved offshore Ireland,” said IOOA chairman Fergus Cahill.

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