Dáil Éireann - Volume 514 - 10 February, 2000
Written Answers. - Oil and Gas Exploration.
Mr. Callely Mr. Callely
 61. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the early indications and results of oil and gas exploration in Irish offshore waters in recent times; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3841/00]
Mr. Fahey Mr. Fahey
Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. Fahey): There are important developments taking place in relation to two hydrocarbon accumulations in our offshore, the Corrib gas accumulation and the Helvick oil field.
The position on the Corrib field is that Enterprise Oil and their partners, Statoil Exploration (Ireland) Limited and Marathon International Petroleum Hibernia Limited, have drilled three wells in the Corrib gas accumulation located in the Slyne Trough – an exploration well in 1996 and two appraisal wells, one in 1998 and the second in 1999.
The exploration well was a gas discovery but the operator was unable to test it at the time. The first appraisal well produced gas on test which flowed at a stabilised rate of 63 million cubic feet of gas per day. The second appraisal well flowed gas at a rate of 64 million cubic feet per day. Enterprise Oil is reported as saying that the field might contain more than one trillion cubic feet of gas-in-place. However, it is too early at this stage to give a precise figure for the size of the gas accumulation and the licensees will not be in a position to do so until they have fully evaluated the discovery.
Evaluation of all the data has continued over recent months with a view to establishing a location for a further appraisal well which Enterprise will drill this spring.
It hopes to be in a position to decide whether the Corrib field is commercial in December of this year. The final decision as to whether the field is commercial will depend on factors such as the volumes of gas in place, the quality of the reservoir, the quality of the gas, the flow rate of wells, market availability and price and the cost of development of the field.
Should the results of their appraisal programme show that the gas can be commercially produced it will be necessary for Enterprise Oil to apply to me for a petroleum lease and submit a plan of development for the field for my approval.
The Helvick oil field is held under a petroleum lease by Providence Resources who have declared the field commercial. A detailed plan of development for the field is due to be submitted to me for approval by the end of April this year. The field is small and is estimated to contain between five and seven million barrels of oil and a small amount of associated gas.
A plan of development for the southwest lobe of the Kinsale Head gas field was approved last year and the field was brought into production by Marathon in October.
Offshore petroleum exploration activity continues at a high level with 22 exploration licences  in place covering 119 blocks or part blocks. In addition there are four offshore licensing options and two leases in place. Applications for three further licensing options and one lease undertaking are under consideration.
Dáil Éireann 514 Written Answers. Oil and Gas Exploration.