Dáil Éireann - Volume 464 - 23 April, 1996

Written Answers. - Oil and Gas Exploration.

138. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications the current oil and gas exploration taking place off the Irish coast; the success or otherwise of this exploration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7987/96]

Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications (Mr. Lowry): There are 24 petroleum exploration licences and seven licensing options in place at present. The work programmes associated with such authorisations are agreed between the operator and the Petroleum Affairs Division of my Department and are specific to each authorisation. They involve a range of exploration activities such as seismic surveys, aeromagnetic surveys, marine gravity and magnetic surveys, sea floor geochemical sampling and satellite surveys.

There are at least 12 exploration surveys planned to take place this year in the Irish offshore. In particular several seismic survey applications have been submitted to the Department for the Rockall Trough, Porcupine Basin and the Irish Sea and are currently being processed.

There are plans to drill two wells in the Slyne Trough under Licences 2/93 and 3/94 this year. The success of this drilling programme can only be determined when the wells have been completed.

Two lease undertakings are in place at present over the Connemara and Helvick Oilfields, both of which extend to the end of 1997. The holders of these lease undertakings are conducting a range of appraisal activities to ascertain the commerciality of the deposits. In the [679] case of Connemara, the operators plan to carry out a 3D seismic survey and will drill an appraisal well in the lease undertaking area.