Dublin, 18 June
The Minister for Natural Resources Fergus O’Dowd today announced the details
of the 2015 Atlantic Margin Oil and Gas Exploration Licensing Round. The Round
will close in September 2015. It will include all of Ireland’s major Atlantic
basins: Porcupine, Goban Spur, Slyne, Erris, Donegal and Rockall. The form of
concession on offer will be a two year Licensing Option.
The formal launch of the round follows conclusion of the Government’s review
of Ireland’s fiscal terms for oil and gas undertaken by UK oil and gas experts
Wood mackenzie. Speaking at the Our Ocean Wealth conference today in Dublin
Castle the Minister stated that “the conclusion of the fiscal terms review
allied with the announcement of the detail of 2015 Round provides industry with
the certainty necessary to invest in exploration offshore
The 2015 Round aims to build on the success of the previous 2011 Atlantic
Margin Licensing Round.
For the 2015 Round the overall Atlantic Margin is divided into three regions.
The maximum number of blocks that can be applied for in each region is as
• For the Donegal Basin , Erris Basin and Slyne Basin Region, a limit of four
blocks applies, due to the smaller size of these basins;
• For the Porcupine Basin and Goban Spur Basin Region, the approach of the
2011 Round is repeated and applications can be made for up to six blocks;
• For the Rockall Basin Region, the maximum area that may be applied for in a
single application is up to ten blocks.
“The increase in the maximum
number of blocks per application to ten in the Rockall Basin is intended to
stimulate exploration in a relatively underexplored frontier area of our
The main purpose of the Licensing Options will be to define exploration
potential and actively promote the acreage. Exploration drilling will not take
place under these Licensing Options. Where holders of Licensing Options wish to
move forward to seek an exploration licence, the licence on offer will be a
Frontier Exploration Licence of a fifteen year duration, with a first phase of
three years, and three subsequent phases of four years each.
The Minister also announced the introduction of a number of key initiatives
to encourage effective timely exploration, including:
• Data from the Regional Seismic Survey being carried out by the Department
of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in conjunction with ENI will be
made available to the industry for the 2015 Licensing Round (the data will also
be made available to the research community); and
• The confidentiality period for all new non-proprietary seismic surveys in
the entire Irish offshore area is to be extended to 10 years. This brings
Ireland into line with other North Western European jurisdictions
“As I have indicated the Round will close in September 2015, this will
allow sufficient time for exploration companies to devote resources and commence
work on evaluating data, so that they can make strong applications.”
“Whilst growth in exploration activity increases the chance of commercial
discoveries being made it brings no guarantees. What we are witnessing in our
offshore is positive and there is a clear forward momentum. Our ultimate aim is
to ensure that the true potential of our indigenous oil and gas resources will
be realised for the benefit of our people”.
The full text of the Minister’s speech can be accessed here.
Note to Editors
Licensing Options give the holder the first right
to an exploration licence over all or part of the area covered by the Option.
Licensing Options are are designed to allow companies assess the petroleum
potential of an area before deciding whether or not to apply for a full
The full details of the Licensing Round are
An up-to-date Concession Map showing areas
allocated under current licencing authorisations is available on the
Department’s website here.