Estimated 2.4 billion barrels of oil at site

Waters directly underneath the 1,500m-deep Kinsale Gas Field, in the Celtic Sea, could contain nearly 2.4 billion barrels of oil, according to latest estimates.

The numbers would suggest that the area — known as the Deep Kinsale Licence — has the potential to outrank the nearby Barryroe field, discovered by Providence Resources, last year, as Ireland’s largest offshore oil find.

The updated information follows the completion of a 3D seismic study of 500 sq km in the area, delivered “significantly under budget” by Dublin-based exploration company, Fastnet Oil & Gas.

Earlier this year, Fastnet bought into a 60% share of the Deep Kinsale licence, which lies directly beneath the Kinsale Gas Field, with an initial intention to use it as its maiden drill in Irish waters sometime next year.

The company could, now, actually drill two wells in the Celtic Sea next summer — one at Deep Kinsale and one at either its Mizen asset or Shanagarry; another licence off the Cork coast in which Fastnet took an 82% stake late last year. It has a suggested oil-in-place total of nearly 1.3bn barrels of oil and just over 1.34tn cubic feet of gas.

Fastnet is already close to naming a farm-in partner for a wider 3D seismic survey of its Celtic Sea asset area and will seek a similar partnership deal to eliminate costs surrounding its drilling plans for next year.

Fastnet — which is set to begin drilling at its offshore operations in Morocco towards the end of this year — is currently in the market for a drill ship to enable work to begin on a possible multi-well drilling programme off the Irish coast, in the late spring/early summer of 2014.

The company’s co-founder, John Craven yesterday said the Deep Kinsale asset has the potential to contain “a significant oil accumulation”, with the 3D survey results acting as “a key de-risking component necessary for the planning of an optimal drilling campaign”.

“While there is always inherent risk associated with early stage exploration, we believe that our successful efforts to de-risk the assets will allow us to achieve our objectives of creating significant value through initial drilling and securing a strategic farm-out transaction,” Fastnet’s managing director, Paul Griffiths added.

Mr Griffiths recently said that the Celtic Sea has the ability to become Ireland’s foremost oil and gas basin.

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