Ireland currently imports approximately 95% of its natural gas needs and 100% of its oil requirements. Successful development of our indigenous resources would contribute to significantly reducing dependence on imported supply.
There have been four commercial natural gas discoveries since exploration began offshore Ireland in the early 1970s, namely the Kinsale, Ballycotton and Seven Heads (Kinsale area) producing gas fields off the coast of Cork and the Corrib gas field off the coast of Mayo. There have been no commercial discoveries of oil to date.
In respect of the Corrib Development, It is estimated that construction of the onshore section of the pipeline, which began last year, including the construction of a 5km tunnel, will take in the region of three years. First gas cannot therefore reasonably be anticipated before end 2014.
In its first four to five years of production, the Corrib Gas Field Development is expected to provide 60% to 65% of Ireland’s natural gas needs.
Despite the low level of commercial discoveries to date, working petroleum systems are known to exist in many of Ireland’s offshore basins, as demonstrated by a number of non-commercial discoveries as well as other oil and gas indicators such as hydrocarbon shows in wells.
It is important then that the State provides right environment to encourage private industry to take the risk associated with investing in exploration. We do this in a number of ways, including:
- offering attractive and innovative licensing opportunities, such as the 2011 Atlantic Margin licensing round;
- providing a fit-for-purpose, transparent and robust regulatory regime;
- deepening knowledge of our offshore petroleum potential, in particular through data acquisition and supporting key research projects and
- actively promoting the opportunity to invest in exploration in the Irish offshore, in particular to companies not currently active here.