OIL deposits just 10 kilometres off the coast of Dublin have the potential to provide our entire oil needs for up to 12 years, according to a survey by Irish exploration company Providence Resources.
Providence’s latest analysis suggests the Kish Bank Basin, known as the Dalkey Island exploration prospect, could contain 870 million barrels of oil. Ireland currently consumes 200,000 barrels of oil per day.
Providence’s partner Exxon is due to begin drilling for natural gas at its Dunquin field 200km off Ireland’s west coast next year.
Providence estimates that Dunquin could contain 25 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas and over four million barrels of oil, which industry sources value at €20 billion.
If a third, or up to 300m barrels, of the potential oil at Dalkey Island is recoverable, it could be worth up to €18.7bn.
However, Providence is quick to distance itself from such guesswork.
As Providence chief executive, Tony O’Reilly explained: “We cannot put potential values on these wells. The reality is that we and our partners are the ones taking the risks and putting up the capital.
“Until we begin drilling, there is no guarantee that there is anything down there. That said, we are delighted that our analysis of the Kish Bank Basin has revealed the presence of a large untested structure that warrants further investigation.
“The Dalkey Island exploration prospect presents the potential for a large oil accumulation in shallow water off the east coast of Ireland. The partners have agreed on a focused work programme aimed at further de-risking this prospect, prior to any drilling programme.”
De-risking means further testing to remove any doubts about the viability of the oil find. Drilling costs at Dunquin will total €112m. The nearer shore Dalkey Island well will cost about €7m to drill. Providence and its Malaysian partner Star Energy Group each hold a 50% stake in the licensing rights for Kish Bank Basin.
Previous exploration drilling in this field has confirmed the potential for petroleum generation with oil shows seen in a number of wells together with natural hydrocarbon seeps recorded from airborne surveys. “It is early days yet,” added Tony O’Reilly.
“Hopefully we won’t be the only ones doing the drilling. The more drilling the better. That is true for both Providence and for Ireland. There have not been enough wells drilled off the coast of Ireland. We hope this will bring bigger companies to Ireland.
“Ireland has had about 160 wells drilled over the last 40 years. The North Sea has had about 10,000 wells drilled in that time, but before that those countries were waiting for companies like us to carry out the exploration.
“Four years ago, Exxon Mobil made commitments to drill at Dunquin off the west coast. Hopefully, that will cause others to come here too. We now have explorations covering every province, all undrilled. If we fulfil our ambitions, it will be great for Providence and it will also have huge benefits for Ireland.”
The Dalkey Island well is at Lower Triassic level. Providence’s optimism is boosted by the presence of rich oil reservoirs at the same level in the eastern Irish Sea off the coast of nearby Liverpool.
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