Europa Hoping for Irish Success

UK junior Europa Oil and Gas is hoping to benefit from exploration in Ireland's Atlantic Margin, where Exxon has already declared its intention to drill the Dunquin prospect next year.

Speaking to Rigzone Tuesday, Europa Chief Executive explained that Europa applied for its Irish licenses last year because it was excited by the possibility of developing an Atlantic Margin-type play in the Lower Cretaceous that could be similar to the success seen in similar geology offshore Ghana and French Guyana.

"There's been a great recognition in the industry that the Lower Cretaceous isn't something that you drill through on the way to the Jurassic, and currently it's quite a hot play worldwide. So, that was the reason we applied for the licenses," said Mackay.

Europa was awarded two licensing options, LO 11/7 and LO 11/8, in October 2011 in the South Porcupine Basin situated off the west coast of Ireland. Previous drilling in the North Porcupine basin led to the discovery of Connemara, Spanish Point and Burren.

Europa has been working the data and has come up with two prospects – Mullen and Kiernan – that are large stratigraphic traps in Lower Cretaceous submarine fans.

"We're actually starting to get quite excited about them. They are potentially very large," said Mackay.

"It's at an early stage and further work is going to be required to de-risk them to a point when you've got a drillable prospect, and that will probably involve acquiring 3D seismic over them. On the basis of the data that we’ve got we are confident that we've got prospects there."

Meanwhile, Europa will be keeping an eye on Exxon's progress at Dunquin, where it is scheduled to spud the Dunquin-1 well during the first quarter of 2013.

"That's exciting because it's a test inside the Porcupine Basin. We've got two licenses and Dunquin is slap bang in the middle between the two licenses. From a prospectivity point of view they are testing something completely different. They are testing a Middle Cretaceous carbonate reservoir. So they are not testing the Lower Cretaceous reservoir, they are going after a different objective. However, if they find hydrocarbons then that's going to say something about the presence of source rocks in the basin," said Mackay.

Europa's results for the year to July 31, reported Tuesday morning, showed that the firm achieved its target of producing 200 barrels of oil equivalent per day during the period, which helped to boost its revenue by 34 percent to GBP 5.1 million and pre-tax profits (before exceptional items) to GBP 1.2 million (2011: GBP 0.7 million).

Mackay told Rigzone that production from Europa's onshore UK assets would help to fund future projects such as those in the Irish margin and the firm's Béarn des Gaves gas project onshore France.

"We're fully funded for one well and our approach is to look for a farm-in partner for the French assets. Ideally, we'd like to drill another well there," he said. 

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at


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