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Providence upbeat on Irish offshore oil and gas reserves

THE chief executive of exploration firm Providence Resources, Tony O'Reilly, believes a "complete reappraisal" of Ireland's potential offshore oil and gas reserves is inevitable as the firm begins to rapidly advance its drilling programmes.

"Given recent industry advances in technology and pricing, as well as Ireland's now established infrastructure and fiscal regime, the time has now come for Ireland's hydrocarbon potential to be realised," said Mr O'Reilly.

The company is due to begin an appraisal drilling operation on its Barryroe acreage in the north Celtic Sea in October. The site is south of the Seven Heads gas fields.

Providence began a seismic study there during the summer and has previously indicated there could be recoverable reserves of between 59 million and 144 million barrels of oil at Barryroe. Mr O'Reilly made the comments as Providence released interim results for the six months to the end of June. The company reported that revenue for the period declined 4.4pc to €5.7m, while it also generated an operating loss of €3.2m compared with an operating profit of €2m in the first half of 2010. The total loss for the first half of 2011 was €16.3m.

The company raised €41m from investors during the period to fund ongoing exploration development, while it also entered into a heads of agreement to sell its Nigerian subsidiary for $16m (€11.7m).

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr O'Reilly said that the Barryroe drilling would be "hugely important" for the company and international sentiment from the sector towards Ireland. He's hoping full-scale production from the site could begin in 2014.

He said that to have oil flowing from a site off Ireland would drum up significant interest in Ireland's potential offshore resources. Providence has been gearing up for drilling programmes on a number of fronts and in the past few years has attracted interest from major international oil companies in its offshore assets around Ireland.

Last week, Spanish oil giant Repsol confirmed it had taken a 25pc stake in Providence's Dunquin prospect, located 200km off the southwest coast. Mr O'Reilly has predicted there could be as much as 600 million barrels of oil at the site.

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