Fastnet to select partner for Celtic Sea operations before end of year

Dublin-headquartered exploration firm Fastnet Oil & Gas will select a partner — from a shortlist of three — to help it develop its Celtic Sea assets before the end of the year.

The ESM and AIM-listed company, which has a number of licences off the south coast of Ireland and both onshore and offshore Morocco, said yesterday that farm-out discussions regarding its Celtic Sea interests were “progressing well” and were expected to be concluded during the fourth quarter of this year.

Fastnet has one of the largest acreage positions in the Celtic Sea of any independent explorer and is still hopeful of producing oil and gas from its Irish operations within the next three years.

Earlier estimates of drilling offshore Ireland beginning by the early summer of next year are now likely to be a touch ambitious.

Speaking yesterday, Fastnet managing director Paul Griffiths said the company was still on track to have some level of pilot/testing development in place, in the Celtic Sea, by the end of 2016. He added that Fastnet’s farm-out talks were with three players with specific interests in the area, rather than just passing curiosities.

Meanwhile, Fastnet is now likely to begin drilling its maiden well — off the coast of Morocco — during the first half of next year. Three months ago, the company expanded its presence in Morocco by taking a near 38% stake in an onshore acreage, which could have the ability to transform the north African country into a powerful net exporter.

With just shy of £21m (€25m) in cash reserves, Fastnet is fully funded to meet licensing commitments and obligations, including the Moroccan programme.

The company yesterday issued its first set of annual results — for the 12 months to the end of March — since becoming a public company last year.

These showed a net loss of £1.4m, largely driven by acquisition costs.

Fastnet chairman Cathal Friel said the key near-term driver of shareholder value would be the Moroccan drilling programme.

“With this in mind, the board looks to the future confident that the company remains on track to execute its stated business development strategy,” he said.

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