By Geoff Percival
Providence Resources could drill off the west coast — as well as in the Celtic Sea — next year as it continues to ramp up exploration activity.
The Government has granted the Tony O’Reilly Jr-led company an extension to its ownership of the frontier exploration licence which holds the highly-rated Newgrange prospect off the south-west coast.
The first phase of the licence will now run to March 2019, allowing Providence to acquire new seismic data to help further de-risk the prospect and pave the way for the planning of an exploration well.
Newgrange is in relatively shallow waters and is viewed as a cheaper, quicker and less risky drilling target than many Atlantic Ocean-based prospects.
Providence is talking to other operators over the potential to share rig machinery. It is also talking to a number of third parties regarding the raising of further development funds via a partial equity sale in the project.
Last week the company announced a long-awaited partnership agreement which will see its flagship asset, the Barryroe field off the Cork coast, developed next year over the course of a six-well, six-month drilling programme.
The company’s shares jumped by over 15% on yesterday’s news, having been up by over 20% earlier in the day.
Meanwhile, another Irish explorer United Oil & Gas has announced an extension of an option to increase its stake in UK offshore assets, at which drilling is due this year.