Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Natural Gas Exploration.

43.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if there is any result from the exploration for natural gas off the west coast; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Eleven non-exclusive petroleum prospecting licences and one exclusive exploration licence covering offshore areas, including areas off the west coast, are currently valid. In accordance with the terms of the licences, the results of exploration work carried out under the licences must be lodged with my Department but are confidential for a period of five years after date of lodgment. I might say, however, that exploration in areas off the west coast is not yet at a sufficiently advanced stage to enable the potential of those areas to be assessed.