Providence Resources to begin test-drilling for oil off Dalkey Island


EXPLORATION GROUP Providence Resources is set to begin drilling for oil off Dalkey Island in Co Dublin.

The company yesterday issued a statement saying that initial soundings taken in a exploration licence area in the Kish Bank in the Irish Sea, known as the Dalkey Island prospect, indicate that it has the potential to produce oil.

The block covers a large area in the Irish Sea, but its western edge lies off Dalkey, one of Dublin’s swishest neighbourhoods and home to a number of celebrities, including some members of rock group U2.

However, Providence chief executive Tony O’Reilly jnr said yesterday that any activity would be offshore, and added that it would be unlikely to prompt complaints from Bono.

“It is well offshore,” he said, “but the advantage is that it is in very shallow water, there is nothing like the depth that you get in blocks like Dunquin or Spanish Point” (which are both off the west coast).

Drilling is not likely to begin there for some time. Providence, and its 50 per cent partner in the block, Petronas, initially intend to run seismic tests, which will provide a picture of the area’s geology. This should provide the main clues to the whereabouts of oil or natural gas.

Based on that, it will then begin exploratory drilling, which is simply a series of drilling exercises aimed at establishing if the area holds oil and if so, how much.

Drilling for oil in shallow water is cheaper and safer than in deep water, where Providence is used to working, as it has interests all around the Irish coast.

Mr O’Reilly could not say how long it would take before it begins this part of the project. “I could not say within months at this stage, we will have to see after we’ve done the seismic.”

Over the years, drilling close to the area has encountered some oil and some natural gas, although nothing that was considered commercial.

However, the key feature of the block as far as Providence is concerned is its similarity to Morecambe Bay.

That area is directly across the Irish Sea, close to Liverpool, and is home to a number of prolific oil and gas fields which are being exploited by BP and Centrica, among others.

Mr O’Reilly said yesterday that the Dalkey Island Prospect and Morecambe Bay area were once part of the same formation, but over time, movement in the earth’s crust split them apart. “This is Morecambe’s twin, and that area is very prolific,” he said.

Mr O’Reilly pledged yesterday that the company would move ahead with work on the Dalkey Island prospect. “We are very excited about it,” he said.