Gold coast strikes it lucky
Wealthy city suburb could become even richer with hunt for oil
Published 03/11/2010 | 05:00
Arguably Ireland's richest suburb, Dalkey, could soon become even richer thanks to its own oil field.
Undersea resources could hold a black gold fortune of up to 870 million barrels of oil -- a lot by European standards.
One of Dublin's most charming suburbs, now it seems that the area that already has everything could get its very own oil field courtesy of the Tony O'Reilly-led Providence Resources.
This is the exploration company that has been busy hunting for oil in Ireland and the UK over the past 13 years.
Quite what long-term locals such as Maeve Binchy, Neil Jordan, The Edge, Van Morrison, Bono, or Pat Kenny will make of this addition is anyone's guess.
It seems unlikely that they will spend their days protesting against any possible pipeline like the West's Shell to Sea protesters but it seems almost equally unlikely this highly vocal group will just shrug off the possibility of oil prospecting in their village with a philosophical "that's progress".
One group of people who look forward to the pumping of oil off Dalkey is Dublin's unsentimental stockbrokers who helped push up Providence Resources shares by 33pc on the stock exchange yesterday as they cheered a company statement that implied there is every reason to believe that there is oil in the licence area 10km from the coast.
Providence, which has recently been looking at old exploration maps of the area with fresh eyes, told the markets yesterday that its licence area, which it shares with Malaysian-owned oil and gas company Petronas, could be home to 870 million barrels of oil.
Oil is already pumping out of the sea close to Liverpool and the boffins who study these things now believe that the area close to Dalkey has a similar geological make-up to the Lower Triassic oil reservoirs on the other side of the Irish Sea. The rising price of oil and the gradual depletion of the world's largest reserves in places likes Saudi Arabia are forcing exploration companies to look in ever more unusual places for oil. As if to prove the point, Providence already owns and operates the Singleton field in a bucolic site in Sussex deep in the English countryside.
The attractions of the latest possible find off Dalkey are the fact that the sea is shallow and the area is close to Dublin which would make it relatively cheap to extract the oil from the ground.
"While considerable risk remains, the prize is large," is how Davy Stockbrokers' analyst Joe Langbroek put it in a note to clients yesterday.
While hopes that Ireland's chronic dependence on imported oil could be alleviated by a large find, the story could almost have been invented by Dalkey's most famous fictional resident -- author Flann O'Brien's mad scientist character De Selby who once developed a substance called DMP which could extract oxygen from an airtight enclosure to produce mature whiskey in a week.
Sixty years later, it may be that Providence will be able to attempt an almost equally fantastic task . . . but for real.