THE government is to seek tenders for a massive geological survey of a huge portion of seabed off the northwest coast of Donegal, potentially opening up new oil exploration opportunities.
The 2D seismic study will examine Rockall and Hatton basins as well as the Southern Porcupine basin.
The Rockall Basin (also known as the Hatton Rockall Basin) is a large sedimentary basin that lies to the north west of Donegal beneath the major deep water area known as the Rockall Trough.
It is named after Rockall, a rocky islet lying 424 kilometres (265 miles) from Donegal.
The exploration industry has taken a renewed interest in Ireland’s offshore basins since Providence Resources recently announced a major oil find off the coast of Cork.
Last week, another Irish exploration company, Petrel Resources, announced that it had identified a target in the South Porcupine basin with the potential to produce a billion barrels of oil.
Last year, the government Atlantic Margin licensing round saw a record 13 authorisations awarded to 12 exploration companies, including seven new entrants to Ireland.
However, the new seismic survey is an effort to attract further interest in exploration in Irish waters.
“While the response to the 2011 licensing round was positive, large areas in the frontier basins received no applications, despite the basins having proven petroleum systems,” according Mr Fergus O’Dowd, the minister of State at the Department of the Environment.
“The department concluded that poor to non-existent seismic data coverage was a significant contributing factor to the lack of applications in these particular areas”.
He said the aim of the new survey was to provide a regional grid of high-quality seismic data covering Ireland’s frontier basins, and to fill in existing data gaps.
“The data should allow the resource potential of the area to be predicted with much greater confidence, and enable both the industry and the government to evaluate future licensing opportunities,” he concluded.
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