Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (15)

Brendan Griffin


15. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources his plans to increase oil and gas exploration activity in Irish coastal waters; his views on whether we need to see more activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45046/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

The Government's strategy for the exploitation of the State's natural hydrocarbon resources aims to maximise the level of exploration activity and increase the level of production activity, while ensuring a fair return to the State from these activities. It is important then that the State provides suitable opportunities for international investors and provides the right environment to encourage private industry to take the risk associated with investing in exploration.

This is achieved in a number of ways, including:

- 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;

- actively promoting the opportunity to invest in exploration in the Irish offshore, in particular to companies not currently active here; and

- offering attractive and innovative licensing opportunities, such as the 2011 Atlantic Margin licensing round.

Exploration activity levels in the Irish offshore have ebbed and flowed over the past four decades. However, Ireland currently has the highest number of exploration authorisations in place since exploration began. In addition, the success of the 2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round is now becoming evident. The 2011 Round represented a new approach and was designed to take account of lessons learned from earlier rounds where the response had been less positive. The 2011 Round resulted in the award of 13 new authorisations, with a two year life, and close to 90% of the Licensing Options awarded are now set to convert to Frontier Exploration Licences.