Oil and gas explorer Providence Resources said on Friday that it had written to Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan twice since late December urging him to grant a key lease on its Barryroe prospect off the Cork coastline, as it seeks to line up funding for the project.
“The board set out a number of considerations and noted that a decision not to grant the lease undertaking, or a protracted delay in doing so, would mean that the potential of the Barryroe Field will not be realised,” it said. “In our view, this would represent a serious failure in the national effort to transition the Irish economy to carbon neutral status by 2050.”
A lease undertaking is a ministerial commitment to grant a petroleum lease at a future date on an oil or gas discovery that has not yet been declared as a “commercial” find.
Providence plans to proceed with an appraisal well at the field in 2023, subject to ministerial approval, which could pave the way first production in 2026.
Investors in Providence have seen three Barryroe development partnership deals come to nothing in the decade since the field was found to have more than 300 million barrels of recoverable oil. The latest was abandoned last April.
The company said on Friday that it has “initiated preliminary discussions with a number of potential industry partners, one or more of which may be attracted to participate in the Barryroe licence at this stage, subject to the grant of the ministerial consent to the lease undertaking.”
The company, which has an 80 per cent stake in the Barryroe licence, estimates that it will cost $65 million to cover its share of envisaged appraisal well and associated technical studies.
"The lease undertaking is vital to capture the potential of Barryroe, which is one of the largest undeveloped off-shore oil and gas fields in Europe, " said Davy analyst Colin Grant. "It could significantly improve national energy security given Ireland imports 100 per cent of its oil, and the Corrib gas field will be depleted by 2031, at which point Ireland will be importing 100 per cent of its natural gas. It would also provide material tax revenues."