‘Veritas Vantage’ leads hunt for deposits

A hi-tech survey vessel has arrived in the Port of Cork as it helps hunt for new oil deposits off the south coast.

The SR Veritas Vantage vessel, which has been berthed at Horgan’s Quay in recent days, is conducting one of the largest ever 3D seismic surveys of the Celtic Sea.

It follows renewed international interest in the Celtic Sea reserves following the discovery of the billion-barrel oil field in the Barryroe zone last year.

Bristling with sophisticated scanning equipment, the ship is working under contract with CGG and independent oil and gas exploration company, Fastnet, to survey some 1,710 sq km of the Celtic Sea.

The total value of the programme, which could last for up to 50 days, is up to $18 million (€13.7m).

Fastnet’s managing director, Paul Griffiths, said this will be the first large-scale 3D seismic programme in this part of offshore Ireland.

The Celtic Sea has been “unloved” for the last 20 years but has been “de-risked” by recent discoveries, he said.

The size of the prize has been underestimated by the exploration industry and the 3D seismic survey will unlock appraisal and development potential for Ireland’s foremost oil and gas basis which is potentially capable of delivering “significant oil and gas production” in the near term, he added.

“While we are targeting proven hydrocarbon systems around the Kinsale and Barryroe fields, we are also evaluating a prospective part of the Celtic Sea basin covering approximately 4,250 sq km that has seen only one well drilled in 1975 by Esso, which encountered oil shows,” he said.

“3D seismic is the first step to creating material, ‘drill ready’ prospects.”

A total of 510 sq km of the survey work will be done over the ‘Deep Kinsale Prospect’ beneath the producing Kinsale Head gas field.

A second scanning vessel will be brought in to conduct an undershoot of the Kinsale Alpha and Bravo platforms, which are protected by a 500 metre safety exclusion zone.

However, 1,200 sq km of 3D seismic data will then be acquired over licensing option zone known as Mizzen, and other nearby areas.

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