DUBLIN, Ireland, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Irish oil and natural gas company Providence Resources announced a major oil discovery in the Rathlin Basin off the coast of Northern Ireland.
Providence estimated the so-called Polaris Project holds 530 million barrels of oil. The company said the project is close enough to shore that it could be drilling from an onshore location.
John O'Sullivan, the company's technical director, said there's been a growing sense of optimism surrounding the offshore prospect.
"We have now commenced planning for a future drilling program in 2014, which includes necessary site investigations, local permitting requirements together with regulatory and local stakeholder liaison," he said in a statement.
The project is part of the company's $500 million, two-year plan to search about half a dozen basins off it Irish coast. The Daily Telegraph newspaper in London reports that the company's predecessor, Atlantic Resources, has been looking for oil off the Irish coast for 30 years.
Providence Chief Executive Officer Tony O'Reilly Jr. told the BBC's Radio 4 last year that discoveries made in October marked the beginning of the Irish offshore industry.
"From an Irish perspective, here we have no oil industry," he said.