Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (775)

Catherine Murphy


775. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the number of licences he and-or his predecessors have issued to domestic and international companies in respect of oil and-or gas exploration in all State territories in the past 50 years to date; the location of the explorations; the results of same; if the State has incurred costs as a result of same and-or has had to provide assistance for remedy or repair of territory; the number of existing applications for gas and-or oil exploration licences that have yet to be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23797/19]

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Written answers (Question to Communications)

Section 57 of the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act, 1960 requires the Minister to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas every six months a report detailing all exploration activities including petroleum exploration authorisations granted during the period of the report. The last such report laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas was in respect of the six-month period ending 31 December 2018. In addition a report on the status of all petroleum authorisations is published on a quarterly basis on my Department's website. The most recent such report was published on 31 March 2019.

The following table outlines the number of each form of petroleum exploration authorisation involving the award of acreage issued in the last 50 years. It should be noted that petroleum authorisations may progress from one form to another e.g. a Licensing Option converts to an Exploration Licence, which converts to a Lease Undertaking and finally in the production phase to a Petroleum Lease.



Licensing Options (Offshore)


Licensing Options (Onshore)


Exploration Licence (Offshore)


Exploration Licence (Onshore)


Reserved Area Licence


Lease Undertaking




These petroleum exploration authorisations have been awarded both onshore Ireland and in all major basins in the Irish Offshore.

This exploration activity has resulted in four commercial gas fields but no commercial oil finds.

The cost of petroleum exploration activities is borne by petroleum exploration authorisation holders. The State has not incurred costs as a direct result of petroleum exploration activities or in respect of remedy or repair of territory within the State. All wells must be plugged and abandoned by the petroleum exploration authorisation holders. In addition the holders of petroleum production authorisations must bear all decommissioning costs associated with production facilities.

12 applications for petroleum exploration authorisations involving the award of acreage are currently under consideration.