Written Answers. - Offshore Drilling.

Desmond J. O'Malley

Question:

34 Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications if he will give details of the offshore drilling programme for 1997. [3870/97]

To date three groups holding offshore petroleum authorisations have made firm plans to undertake drilling programmes in the Irish offshore during 1997. Both Marathon International Petroleum Hibernia Ltd. and Total Oil Marine plc. intend drilling exploration wells under their Frontier Exploration Licences. It is likely that Total will drill in the Porcupine Basin, commencing in May or June, where they have already carried out a site survey. Marathon will also drill in the Porcupine Basin this year but have not yet indicated a firm commencment date.

Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Limited hold a Lease Undertaking in the Connemara Field and plan to drill an appraisal well, starting in March or April, on which an extended well test will be carried out. They then propose to drill a second appraisal well, to be followed by a detailed test. Should the result of the two wells be encouraging, the company will proceed to declare the field commercial and will move to full production requiring possibly up to ten development wells to be drilled.

Enterprise Oil plc were prepared to drill in the Kish Basin last year but were unable to do so. It is expected that they will seek approval to drill there this year.

Further exploration wells may be drilled this year but no proposals have yet been made by the companies to my Department.