Ireland to Hold Licensing Round for Porcupine Basin in 2007

Noel Dempsey T.D., the Minister for Communications, Marine & Natural Resources confirmed that he would be holding a new licensing round, offering exploration licenses in the Porcupine Basin in 2007. The Minister originally signaled his intention to launch this new round at the conclusion of the Slyne/Erris/Donegal licensing round in 2006.

The acreage on offer in the Porcupine Basin will cover unlicensed blocks in an area of approximately 63,500 square kilometers. The area has been classified as Frontier acreage because of the challenging environment of Ireland's Atlantic Margin.

"Ireland needs an indigenous gas supply. At present we import more than 85% of our gas requirements. This is in stark contrast to the position ten years ago, when about 95% of our gas requirement came from indigenous supplies through the Kinsale Field. Only 5 exploration wells have been drilled in the Porcupine area in the last 20 years and though the area may have considerable potential, to this day it remains under-explored," commented Minister Dempsey.

A comprehensive Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the region will take place before any exploration licenses are awarded in the Porcupine Basin. External environmental experts will conduct this SEA and public consultation will form an integral part of the assessment.

"During 2006 I commissioned a review of the existing licensing terms. This review is now nearing completion and I expect to receive a final report from the consultants shortly. Any adjustment of terms will apply to the Porcupine round and applications will only be formally invited for the round after decisions have been taken on the future of the current licensing regime," said Minister Dempsey.

It is expected that applications for Frontier Exploration Licenses covering blocks in the Round will be invited in May 2007 with a closing date for applications of end October. The Round will provide that applications may be made for a maximum of three blocks in the north of the Porcupine Basin and for a maximum of six blocks in the south of the basin.

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