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Australian oil giant to get drilling permit

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The approval of the application comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Richard Bruton announced last September the government would cease new exploration for oil off the shores of Ireland (stock photo)

The approval of the application comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Richard Bruton announced last September the government would cease new exploration for oil off the shores of Ireland (stock photo)

The approval of the application comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Richard Bruton announced last September the government would cease new exploration for oil off the shores of Ireland (stock photo)

Woodside Energy, Australia's largest independent oil and gas company, is set to receive a petroleum prospecting licence to conduct testing in the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Ireland.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment last week gave notice it intends to grant the petroleum prospecting licence to the Australian-listed company, which is valued at A$30.94bn (€19.16bn).

Woodside intends to carry out a "shallow borehole programme" enabling an application for a regional survey, proposed under an existing exploration licence, called FEL 5/13. Woodside applied for the permit as it includes an area outside the current licence's boundary.

The approval of the application comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Richard Bruton announced last September the government would cease new exploration for oil off the shores of Ireland.

Following the announcement, a policy statement was published in December which set out a vision for natural gas as a critical component of Ireland's energy mix due to the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The statement also confirmed applications and authorisations in place before the September announcement would not be affected, including the one obtained by Woodside for FEL 5/13.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment said that, as Woodside already has a pre-existing exploration licence in place, it was following pre-existing procedures.

"This means that once [it] is granted, Woodside will need to submit a formal application for consent to undertake the proposed survey," she said.

The application will be published by the department and followed by a period of public consultation.

In 2017, Woodside managing director Peter Coleman said the company was likely to take an "opportunity to push" out drilling in Ireland until 2019. It has another exploration licence with Irish oil explorer Petrel Resources.

Sunday Indo Business