Canadian explorer's shares double on Skellig oil and gas bonanza
There are fresh hopes of a future oil and gas bonanza for Ireland, with a new survey showing there could be the equivalent of 4.5 billion barrels of oil lying beneath the seabed off the south-west coast.
Such a find would be worth tens of billions of euro.
Canadian oil firm Antrim Energy said a new detailed survey of the Skellig exploration block, which stretches over 1,052 sq km and is about 200km offshore, has revealed what could be huge resource deposits.
It said a 3D survey of the area has shown that the Skellig block could hold 1.1 billion barrels of oil and 17 trillion cubic feet of natural gas based on a high estimate. That's the equivalent of 4.5 billion barrels of oil.
Even a more modest "best estimate" suggests massive reserves.
The firm that undertook the survey, Calgary-based McDaniel & Associates Consultants, said that even on that best estimate basis, there could be 260 million barrels of oil and almost 4.7 trillion cubic feet of gas.
By comparison, the troubled Corrib gas field has about one trillion cubic feet of gas.
Antrim Energy owns 25pc of the Skellig exploration block, while US-based Kosmos Energy holds 75pc.
Shares in Antrim more than doubled in London yesterday.
Kosmos Energy owns 24pc of the successful Jubilee oil field in offshore Ghana. Tullow Oil owns 36.5pc of the field.
Antrim Energy said that the 3D survey of the Skellig block has strongly indicated the type of geometric and seismic character similar to many of the recent Cretaceous oil discoveries at offshore west Africa.
Antrim has previously indicated that drilling at Skellig could commence either next year or in 2016.
But while hopes will be raised by the news from Antrim, it will be significantly tempered by a long list of exploration failures off the coast of Ireland.
Ireland's offshore exploration rush was hit with a massive blow last year when oil and gas giant Exxon said it was pulling out.
The company had been drilling a well adjacent to the Skellig block, at the Dunquin North prospect. It owned 25.5pc of the prospect, with Irish minnow Providence Resources owning 16pc.
Drilling at the Dunquin prospect had been the most highly- anticipated exploration activity ever in Ireland and there were huge hopes that it would confirm huge oil reserves.
But Exxon said that while it had found some residual oil, it had not recovered any commercially-viable hydrocarbons from the well.
The company said it did not plan to drill around Ireland "for the foreseeable future".