In order to explore the Irish offshore, or onshore, for oil and gas, companies need to be issued an authorisation to do so by the Minister. These authorisations are issued by the Minister under the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act, 1960 . All authorisations granted are subject to the Licensing Terms for Offshore Oil & Gas Exploration, Development & Production.
The Irish offshore is divided into 'Open Areas' and 'Closed Areas'. In Open Areas applications for exploration licences and licensing options may be made at any time. In Closed Areas applications for these authorisations may only be made during a Licensing Round when the area is opened for licensing by the Minister.