Fastnet Oil and Gas has been awarded a licensing option in the Celtic Sea by the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.
It said the 18-month licensing option would require the re-mapping of the area and a review of existing seismic data.
The company said yesterday that it had also appointed Paul Griffiths as managing director. He replaces chief executive Stephen Staley, who's remaining as a non-executive director.
Mr Griffiths had been appointed vice president of exploration at Fastnet during the summer.
Fastnet has also agreed to farm-in to a licensing option called Shangarry near the Kinsale gas fields that was previously awarded to a consortium that includes a company owned by Mr Griffiths, Petro-Celtex Consultancy.
Fastnet, which is listed in Dublin and London, will take an 82.3pc stake in Shangarry subject to approval from the department, while Mr Griffiths' firm will retain just over 1pc.
Marathon Oil previously drilled in the area in 1984, but the well was not fully tested due to operational issues and poor gas economics at the time.
The new North Celtic Sea licence awarded to Fastnet covers an area that was drilled by Marathon between 1974 and 1986. Fastnet has an 85pc interest in the licence.