Irish exploration company Petrel Resources has expressed confidence in attracting a major oil and gas company to buy into part of its licence portfolio off the west coast. However, it has warned that delays in granting licences and the changing political climate surrounding offshore exploration could hinder its progress.
On the back of the company reporting a significant decline in annual losses for 2018 - from €4.4m to €239,042 - chairman John Teeling said Petrel is actively working at progressing all of its Irish interests, which cover one licensing option and two frontier exploration licences in the Porcupine Basin area off the Kerry coast.
Petrel has applied to assume 100% ownership of one of its frontier exploration licences - such a licene means an operator must drill at least one exploraton well - and to extend its first phase by a year. The company has also applied to transfer its licensing option into a frontier exploration licence and is set to evaluate whether to remain a 10% shareholder in another licence.
Regarding the first licence mentioned, Petrel said it believes it has "a good package with which to attract a major [development partner]," but said it is running out of time.
There is an active political movement to outlaw all offshore exploration. This in a country which is dependent on Siberian gas.
"What began as a fanciful proposition from a tiny left-wing party got support from mainstream parties. The recent proposition before parliament has lapsed but damage has been done and a precedent established. Foreign investors can spend their money in over 200 countries, it does not have to be Ireland," Mr Teeling said.
Irish-focused gas explorer Predator Oil and Gas recently warned the Government must clarify its stance on offshore drilling or risk losing foreign investment.
"Companies who obtained exploration licences are being frustrated in getting drilling permits and are having permits overturned on technicalities. The State has allowed explorers to spend tens of millions on early-stage prospecting only to frustrate and delay the granting of drilling licences," Mr Teeling said.
He said progress - towards the tail-end of this year, at Providence Resources' Barryroe oil and gas field, which is located off the Cork coast, may change sentiment, but described the Irish offshore as being "a sorry scene".