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Oil struck in Ireland’s Celtic Sea

19 June 2012

In the summer 2011 edition of the PISCES newsletter (Issue 4), we featured an article on a seismic survey recently completed on the Barryroe Field in Ireland’s Celtic Sea. At this time, Providence Resources, an Irish based oil and gas exploration and production company, announced plans to drill ten exploration and development wells in the Celtic Sea. This programme represents the largest drilling campaign ever carried out in Irish offshore waters.

Resources’ operations in the Celtic Sea

In March 2012, Providence Resources struck oil 50 kilometres off the County Cork coast. At nearly twice the flow rate previously projected, this is the first big find in Irish territorial waters in the north Celtic Sea.

The oilfield has a flow of more than 3,514 barrels a day, a number which far exceeds the company’s original projections of 1,800 barrels. The oil was discovered at a water depth of about 100 metres. Previous attempts to drill for oil in the 1970s and 1990s, did not prove commercially viable.

Opportunities for the Irish economy:
Fergus Cahill of the Irish Offshore Operator’s Association has said; “These findings are very encouraging and positive. It’s the first discovery in Irish waters that looks to be declared commercial, and the flow rates are encouraging, which will promote other exploration. If it gets developed, which we hope it will, it will reduce our dependency on imports, increase taxation revenue and create jobs”.

The news has also been welcomed by the Cork Chamber, the leading business organisation for the promotion, development and expansion of economic and commercial activity in the Cork region. Chief Executive, Conor Healy, points to the advantages of the oil being brought ashore in Cork and the benefits it could create for the local economy.

Challenges for the Celtic Sea ecosystem:

Tony Lowes of Friends of the Irish Environment, an Irish network of conservationists and environmentalists stresses that there remains the possibility of environmental damage and it is crucial that all relevant government agencies ensure the proper regulatory standards are maintained throughout this operation.
It is also anticipated that successful drilling at the Barryroe Well will increase pressure on the Irish government to grant permission for oil exploration at five further sites in Irish waters including the most controversial site at Dalkey Island in Dublin Bay, which has been met with fierce opposition by mainland residents and environmental groups due to its proximity to the coastline.

From a PISCES project perspective, it is imperative that we engage with oil and gas representatives in the Celtic Sea to ensure the long term sustainability of our shared waters. PISCES brings together this industry alongside others such as fisheries, renewables and coastal tourism to create an agreed guide for the management of the Celtic Sea.

Further reading:
The Irish Times: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2012/0316/1224313394308.html
The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/mar/15/ireland-oil-find-providence-resources

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