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Minister McHugh welcomes upswing in momentum in oil and gas exploration activity in Irelands offshore and announces series of initiatives to attract additional inward investment

Dublin, 20 October 2014

Speaking at the Atlantic Ireland Conference in Dublin today, Minister for Natural Resources, Joe McHugh, T.D., highlighted the increased interest in the oil and gas potential of the Irish Offshore.

"Today, Ireland has the highest number of exploration authorisations in place, since exploration began in our offshore four decades ago. In recent years the level of seismic acquisition has risen very significantly with more 2D and 3D seismic acquired in the period 2013 to 2014 than in the preceding ten years combined.

Drilling levels are set to increase from a low base over the next two to five years, as drilling commitments now in place are delivered and as new drilling commitments are entered into following on from decisions made by companies currently investing in seismic acquisition.

All of this demonstrates that exploration in the Irish offshore is moving in the right direction. What we are witnessing in our offshore is positive and there is a clear forward momentum. The Government's intention is that this momentum should be maintained, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that the true potential of our indigenous oil and gas resources will be realised for the benefit of our people".

Minister McHugh went on to say "that it is a fact that Ireland competes for mobile exploration investment in the same way it competes for Foreign Direct Investment in already established onshore sectors and accordingly the Government is putting in place a range of initiatives to promote the opportunity to invest in Ireland."

Having concluded a review earlier this year of the Fiscal Terms applying to oil and gas exploration, clarity has been provided to potential applicants under the 2015 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round. Minister McHugh said that "the industry is expressing a positive interest in the 2015 Licensing Round which has the potential to build on the existing positive momentum and bring exploration activity to the type of levels whereby the true petroleum potential of the Irish offshore can be realised."

Minister McHugh told the conference that his Department is about to commence a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the areas included in the 2015 Licensing Round and he encouraged the industry to actively participate in the SEA process.

Minister McHugh also announced a new environmental research initiative involving a significant environmental baseline data acquisition programme that will set out to address knowledge gaps relating to the understanding of protected marine species and sites in key offshore basins. "I am pleased to announce today that my Department, in liaison with the National Parks and Wildlife Service is establishing a marine mammal data acquisition programme, with funding being made available for this programme from research funding managed by my Department. By acquiring a more detailed understanding of species distribution, relative abundance and sensitivity/vulnerability in our offshore waters we will ensure continued robust decision-making in relation to proposed petroleum exploration activities."

"The Government's intention is that momentum should be maintained, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that the true potential of our indigenous oil and gas resources will be realised for the benefit of our people".

ENDS

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