PROVIDENCE Resources, which has the best performing shares on the stock exchange this year, has confirmed that it will drill five wells over the next two years as part of its efforts to find oil and gas around Ireland.
In its end-of-year statement, the company said it will drill at its Spanish Point and Dunquin licences in the Atlantic Margin as well as the Kish Bank Basin in 2013, and will follow that by drilling in the Rathlin Basin off the north of the island in 2014.
Providence also plans to drill the Dragon licence in the St George's Channel off the Wexford coast.
"This drilling programme, which represents the largest and most comprehensive concerted drilling operations offshore Ireland, represents an investment of up to $500m (€375m) by Providence and its partners in a number of exploration and development/ appraisal wells," the firm said.
In March, Providence said it had found more than a billion barrels of oil in the Barryroe field off the Cork coast, and, yesterday, Providence chief executive Tony O'Reilly said the year had been a "transformational one" for his group.
"The most notable event was the successful drilling and testing of the Barryroe oil field in the Celtic Sea Basin.
"The success at Barryroe, further enhanced by detailed post-well analysis, has had an extremely positive impact on both the asset portfolio and the financial well-being of the company.
"It has also had a profound effect on the perception of Ireland in the eyes of the international E&P sector," he added.
Job Langbroek, from Davy stockbrokers, said the drilling plan showed the progress that had been made this year.
"The next 12 months are unlikely to see any let-up in the rate of change and, notwithstanding the uncertainties of exploration, Barryroe and Spanish Point appraisals should result in a firmly net positive outcome for shareholders. The group is one of our favourite picks for 2013," he said.
In Dublin, shares rose 3.7pc at €6.95. They are up 175pc this year.