Irish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Fergus O'Dowd confirmed that the government has received applications for onshore licensing from energy companies Enegi and Tamboran Resources. They were companies granted rights in 2011 to petition for work in Ireland's shale Northwest Carboniferous and Clare basins.
Enegi in February said the Clare basin may contain 1.49 trillion cubic feet-3.86 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
O'Dowd said the licenses from the companies propose the use of hydraulic fracturing to explore the shale reserves. The Irish Environmental Protection Agency expects to issue its findings on the practice, dubbed fracking, in 2015.
"No decision would be made on any proposal for the use of hydraulic fracturing in exploration drilling in Ireland until there has been time to consider the outcome of this further EPA research," he said in a statement.
Fracking is viewed by some as an environmental threat because of the chemicals used during a process that releases natural gas free from shale deposits.