Giant Malaysian oil firm Petronas is thought to be mulling over a bid for €600m Providence Resources as Ireland's offshore oil sector becomes increasingly attractive to investors.
Petronas, which is a partner of Providence in its now shelved Dalkey Bay asset, already has a presence in Ireland through its acquisition of Kinsale Gas in 2009. Last week Fastnet agreed a farm in deal with a Petronas operation in the Deep Kinsale project.
Hopes of major oil or gas finds off the south coast will heighten in coming weeks with the highly anticipated drilling programme at the Dunquin prospect. There have been suggestions that the prospect could contain up to nine trillion cubic feet of gas – equivalent to the Corrib gas field off Mayo. Providence Resources has teamed up with ExxonMobil, Eni and Repsol for the project.
Major oil firms such as Petronas are understood to be primarily interested in Providence Resources because of its stake in the Barryroe field, Ireland's biggest ever oil find. Oisin Fanning's San Leon Energy and Lansdowne Oil & Gas are also shareholders in the Barryroe field.
"The smart companies want to talk to us sooner and some already have," Providence Resources chief Tony O'Reilly told the Sunday Independent late last year. "There has been Asian interest, US interest and the usual North Sea interest."
Providence has prepared a data room and costings on Barryroe for potential investors. Providence said it did not comment on speculation. Petronas did not comment.