DUBLIN, Ireland, June 3 (UPI) -- The response to the latest offerings for the rights to examine the oil and gas potential off the Irish coast has been significant, the government said.
The Irish government said it offered 14 licensing options after wrapping up its 2015 auction for the Atlantic. That builds on the 28 options awarded during round one, which concluded in February.
Minister of State for Natural Resources Sean Kyne said the industry interest so far shows that most players are confident about the prospects for reserves off the Irish coast.
"The response to the 2015 Atlantic Margin licensing round is by far the largest number of applications received in any licensing round held in the Irish offshore," he said in an emailed statement. "At a time of very low oil prices, the strong interest in the round is very positive."
The Irish government is hedging its bets on the reserve potential. Four years ago, the government said offshore reserves produced 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas, but no oil. Junior explorer Europa Oil & Gas said last year preliminary data found prospective resources of 1.49 billion barrels of oil equivalent in the Porcupine frontier license off the western Irish coast.
Ireland imports all of its oil and relies in foreign sources for 90 percent of its natural gas needs. The government in December published a White Paper detailing how to phase out high-carbon fuels like peat and coal and move in favor of renewable resources. By 2050, the guidelines call for renewable resources to overtake fossil fuels by 2050. Greenhouse gas emissions tied to the Irish energy sector would fall to zero by the end of the century under the scheme.