Serica Energy to refocus on Irish licences in new year

Serica Energy to refocus on Irish licences in new year
File photo

By Geoff Percival

British exploration company Serica Energy has said it should be in a position to turn its attention to its dormant Irish acreage in the new year.

Chief executive Mitch Flegg said the company’s UK operations have been its main focus of late, but that it remains committed to its Irish interests and still likes its acreage here.

Serica has had a presence in Irish waters since 2006 and, in 2009, made the first oil discovery off the west coast in 30 years. It was awarded an additional licence in the Government’s 2011 Atlantic Margin licensing round, and last year won a two-year extension to find a funding partner for an exploration well at its two licences in the Rockall Basin off the north-west coast.

But Serica has struggled to raise interest in its Irish licences, partly due to them being costlier-to-explore deep-water assets.

The company has spent much of this year undertaking interrupted drilling activity in the North Sea and increasing its interests in local fields it bought BP out of in late 2017.

Mr Flegg, a former chief executive of defunct Irish explorer Circle Oil, said completion of its latest North Sea investments, due to close in early 2019, would give Serica more time to refocus on Ireland.

Serica’s UK investments have also helped to roughly quadruple its market value in the past 12 months.

That financial strengthening could allow Serica more room to manoeuvre on drilling costs for an Irish well. However, Mr Flegg said the company still wants to introduce a development partner.

The exploration company’s shares — which have traded strongly over the past 12 months — were up by around 4% yesterday.

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