Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Drilling Licences.

56.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if any companies have been granted licences to drill for oil and gas in the territorial waters; and if he has any information regarding their explorations.

Permission has not been granted to any company to drill for oil and gas in the territorial waters.

Permission to drill 13 wells in the Continental Shelf outside the territorial waters has been granted to the company which holds an exclusive exploration licence in respect of certain offshore areas. This company furnishes reports of the progress of its exploration operations to the Minister on a confidential basis. However, as I indicated in reply to a recent question, the company made a public announcement a few months ago that drilling operations in the Kinsale Head area had revealed the presence of significant amounts of natural gas.