Thursday, 24 October 2013

Questions (162, 164)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

162. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the extent to which exploration licenses granted, on and off-shore, in each of the past ten years to date have been activated; the number of viable discoveries; the number of explorations currently under way; the extent to which commercial viability is anticipated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45546/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

164. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources arising from the number of exploration licenses granted in each of the past ten years, the extent to which discovery of oil, gas and other mineral deposits have been identified on and off-shore; the degree to which their commercial viability has been assessed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45548/13]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 162 and 164 together.

The number of Mineral Prospecting Licences and Petroleum Exploration Licences granted in each of the past ten years is set out in the following table:

Licences Granted during period 2003 – 2013

Year

Prospecting Licences (Minerals)

Petroleum Exploration Licences

2003

22

0

2004

26

3

2005

51

7

2006

84

4

2007

143

5

2008

91

5

2009

66

1

2010

93

0

2011

98

2

2012

102

0

2013 (to date)

128

3

Total

904

30

While there have been no new commercial discoveries of oil and gas in the Irish onshore and offshore in the past ten years the drilling of an appraisal well in the Barryroe prospect in the Celtic sea has shown encouraging results. More work will be required to determine if the discovery is actually commercial and it is not clear at this stage how long this process will take.

The only petroleum discovery in recent years that has been declared commercial but has yet to be developed is the Corrib Gas Field. Twenty of the petroleum exploration licences granted during the period are still active.

While no new commercially viable deposits of minerals have been discovered in the past ten years, there have been some encouraging results, particularly in Counties Limerick and Clare. However, it is too early to determine whether these results will lead to identification of commercially viable deposits or to estimate the economic benefits that might accrue. Six hundred and forty seven of the mineral prospecting licences granted during the period are still active.