Ireland opens entire Atlantic margin to bids

Irish energy minister Conor Lenihan invites bids for offshore exploration under Ireland’s 2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round.

Offshore staff

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Irish energy minister Conor Lenihan invites bids for offshore exploration under Ireland’s 2011 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round.

Unlike previous license rounds off western Ireland, which focused on individual frontier basins, the new program will open Ireland’s entire sector of the Atlantic margin for exploration (apart from areas already licensed).

This will, therefore, be Ireland’s widest-ranging licensing round to date, covering an area of just over 250,000 sq km (96,525 sq mi), and comprising 996 full blocks and 58 part-blocks. Acreage on offer extends from 30-380 km (18-236 mi) offshore, in water depths of 200 m to over 3,000 m (656-9,842 ft).

The new round also differs from previous licensing rounds in other ways, the aim being to stimulate exploration activity.

Formerly, the government issued 15-year licenses which required a significant investment within the first phase (four years, typically). Under the new program, however, two-year licensing options will be offered to allow companies to assess an area’s exploration potential without committing to a large, up-front cash outlay.

Companies or partners in these programs then can opt for a 15-year license after submitting a suitable work program.

Also, in order to promote new seismic acquisition, Lenihan has extended the confidentiality period applied to new acquisition in the Licensing Round area from seven to 10 years.

“Having considered the lessons to be learned from recent licensing rounds and having consulted with industry, I believe it is time for Ireland to take a new approach to attracting exploration investment to the Atlantic Margin…,” Lenihan said.

“It is an initiative… that will fit different company sizes and corporate strategies. As a result, it should be of real interest to the industry at large, contractors included.”

Applications must be submitted by May 31, 2011. Each application must be for a minimum of one block and a maximum of six blocks.

06/24/2010

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