Barryroe oil output could hit as much as 20,000 barrels a day

Oil production at Ireland’s first commercial discovery could reach as high as 20,000 barrels a day when production commences at the Barryroe field in the next three years.

Yesterday, Providence Resources chief executive Tony O’Reilly Jnr confirmed Wednesday’s Irish Examiner story that a commercial oil field had been discovered.

Providence Resources technical director John O’Sullivan said that depending on the production strategy deployed, the field could produce as much as 20,000 barrels per day (bopd). The UCC geology graduate said they may utilise horizontal wells to give better access to the 300 sq km oil field — equivalent to a medium to large North Sea oil field.

Mr O’Reilly said flow rates of 3,514 bopd had been discovered at 100-metre depth in the North Celtic Sea Basin.

“The well has also confirmed that the basal sands are laterally continuous, highly productive and that the oils are of a very high quality,” he said. This is twice the 1,800 bopd target set by Providence as being large enough to deem it a commercial find.

Mr O’Reilly, whose family owns a 20% stake in Providence, said the company was looking to upgrade the total field estimates, standing at 60 million barrels of recoverable oil.

“Hopefully those resource figures will increase and the recovery factor will increase and allow us to have substantial production... we haven’t put out any numbers though we do feel that there is an opportunity for an upgrading in the size of this accumulation,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said the 500 bopd equivalent in gas, which the well is throwing off, would be used to power a production oil rig. Any spare capacity could be diverted to the gas pipeline serving the Seven Head Gas Filed, just 3km from Barryroe discovery.

In a flash equity note, Davy Stockbrokers analysts Job Langbroek and Caren Crowley said the find had important implications across the board and upped the price target for the company’s shares which are traded in Dublin and London.

This is the fifth time oil has been hit during explorations of the Barryroe licensing block, but the other wells fell below the 1,800 bopd commercialisation target and were drilled in the 1970s and 1990s by Esso and Marathon. Three wells were drilled in the 1970s by Esso and a further well was drilled by Marathon in the early 1990s and all four wells encountered hydrocarbons.

Mr O’Reilly said while the original drills confirmed oil accumulations, modern technology in the industry had brought exploration on leaps and bounds.

Mr O’Reilly said he hopes the discovery will lead to the creation of an onshore oil industry in the country. He said all the equipment, personnel and services he needs to work on a well come from Aberdeen. “Why can’t we have a surface industry in Ireland to service the Irish offshore?” he asked.

Mr O’Reilly praised the Providence team and contractors that helped establish the find as commercial. “Given that we only assumed operatorship of Barryroe in late 2010, I would like to pay tribute to all of the team members who have helped to deliver such a successful outcome to this programme”, he said.

The data represented the first “significant” test flows of oil off Ireland in 12 years, Energy Minister of State Fergus O’Dowd said in a statement.

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