State to spend €20m on Atlantic oil and gas survey
A €20M seismic survey is to take place off Ireland's Atlantic coast in a bid to entice oil and gas exploration companies to Irish waters.
The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said it would be the largest regional seismic study in the Irish offshore and would also serve as a scientific study for the broader research industry.
About 20pc of the cost will be met through the department, but not from the Exchequer.
It will come via a research fund generated by income from the industry, which has been contributed through license obligations.
The remainder will be provided by Italian energy research company Eni, but the State will retain the rights to all data retrieved.
Natural Resources Minister Fergus O'Dowd granted approval for the survey, claiming it would provide a regional grid of high-quality seismic data over Ireland's frontier basins.
"The 18,000km full-fold seismic survey is also designed to infill data gaps that exist, particularly in the Southern Porcupine, Rockall and Hatton basins," Mr O'Dowd said.
"Most importantly, the survey should go a long way towards revealing the true oil and gas potential of Ireland's frontier basins.
"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."
The survey will be undertaken by Eni Ireland BV in conjunction with the department in the Atlantic waters of the Irish-designated Continental Shelf.
Eni is involved in a number of exploration licenses in the Irish off shore.
"There was a mutual interest in relation to being involved in this survey," a department spokesman said. "They'll have no rights over acreage. The Irish Government will have complete control over the use of the data. If there was any profit, that would be a matter for the Irish Government."
The Irish Offshore Operators' Association (IOOA) said that at present Irish offshore is significantly underexplored, with about 5pc of the Irish off-shore area under licence. It said accurate and extensive data are an essential tool in remedying this.