Application Decision

‚ÄčNotice of the Grant of Permission to undertake drilling activities on proposed well 52/4-A Iolar Prospect, FEL 3/18

The Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment has decided:

  • To grant permission to CNOOC to undertake drilling activities on proposed well 52/4-A, Iolar Prospect pursuant to Frontier Exploration Licence 3/18;
  • To consent to the placement of a temporary well head and associated infrastructure on the seabed, pursuant to Section 5(2) of the Continental Shelf Act 1968, as amended.

Subject to conditions, for the following reasons:

  • As set out in detail in the EIA Screening Determination of 12 April 2019, the drilling of an exploration well on the Iolar Prospect can be completed without significant effects on the environment, subject to attachment of specified conditions;
  • As set out in detail in the AA Determination of 17 May 2019, the application to drill an exploration well on the Iolar Prospect, would not adversely affect the integrity of a European site (whether individually or in combination with other plans or projects), subject to attachment of specified conditions;
  • The technical elements of the proposals are acceptable and meet the Department's requirements. It is considered that information delivered from such activity will underpin greater geological understanding of the basin subsurface in a frontier unexplored part of the Irish offshore. A well would also provide information on prospect seal lithology, effectiveness and trap potential and the findings could help de-risk the Irish Atlantic Margin Middle Jurassic play. The data provided from the proposed Iolar Prospect well would act as a key control point in assessing the prospectivity in an underexplored basin and would enable assessment of the potential fairways and petroleum systems within the Porcupine Basin;
  • The applicant has provided sufficient evidence that suitable insurance cover is in place and that the applicant's overall Financial Responsibility estimate is reasonable to meet the costs of carrying out the offshore petroleum activities in question, to meet the costs of effective emergency response and subsequent remediation in the event of a major accident, and to have appropriate insurance, indemnity or other financial assurance instruments to cover liabilities potentially deriving from the applicant's offshore activities; 
  • Having consulted with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport regarding the safety of navigation pursuant to Section 5 of the Continental Shelf Act 1968, it was confirmed that there is no impact on safety of navigation, should a temporary well head be located at the proposed location of drilling operations and provided certain information is supplied to the Marine Safety Office;
  • The development of Ireland's indigenous oil and gas resources has the potential to deliver significant and sustained benefits, particularly in terms of enhanced security of supply, import substitution, fiscal return, national and local economic development and technology learning;

Please note that the validity of this decision may be questioned by judicial review under Order 84 of the Rules of the Superior Courts (S.I. No.15 of 1986), as amended.  Any application for leave to apply for judicial review must be made promptly and in any event within three months from the date of this decision. Practical information on the review mechanism can be obtained from the Citizens Information Board, Ground Floor, George's Quay House, 43 Townsend Street, Dublin 2, or online at or