PROVIDENCE Resources said it has found early but promising signs of oil or gas in its Rathlin Island field off the coast of Northern Ireland.
The oil company, which is leading the largest exploration programme in Irish history, said computer studies of technical data covering six offshore licences and one onshore licence in Rathlin has found five places where there were signs of oil or gas.
"While the work is still preliminary, five anomalies have been identified," Providence said in a statement yesterday.
Work has now begun on identifying the first drilling locations, it added.
Davy Stockbrokers said in a report to clients that "this programme is still in its infancy" but added that Providence's 100pc ownership of Rathlin meant that it could manage the cost of drilling there.
Providence said last week that it had received formal notification about a deep-water rig called the Eirik Raude.
Chief executive Tony O'Reilly said the rig would begin drilling next year at the Dunquin field in the south Porcupine basin off the west coast of Ireland.
The latest news came two weeks after Providence said there were more oil reserves at its flagship Barryroe project off the coast near Cork, more than previously thought.
The company hiked its estimate of oil reserves at Barryroe to as much as 1.6 billion barrels and noted there was further potential in hydrocarbon bearing sands.
Shares in Providence closed unchanged at €8.40 in Dublin last night after rising in early trading. The shares have risen more than 200pc in the last 12 months, making them the best performing stock on the Dublin stock exchange.