I wish to advise the Deputy that nine licensing options were granted to various companies over areas in the Porcupine Basin off the south west coast under the 2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round. Details of the authorisations granted together with a map showing the areas involved are available in the latest acreage report and concession map which is published on my Departments website and can be viewed on the following link:
The licensing options were granted for a period of two years from 1 November 2011 subject to the carrying out of a work programme agreed with my Department. They are preliminary authorisations and are designed to allow companies assess the petroleum potential of an area, generally on the basis of existing data. Drilling is not permitted at the licensing option stage. The holders of the licensing options have a right to apply for a frontier exploration licence over the area concerned and must do so by the end of October this year, or else relinquish the acreage.
In relation to more advanced petroleum exploration off the south west coast the Deputy may wish to know that the holders of Frontier Exploration Licence 3/04, operated by Exxon Mobil Exploration and Production Ireland (Offshore) Ltd. are preparing to drill an exploration well on the Dunquin prospect in the Porcupine Basin later this year.