Preparing for oil off Ireland

Hugh Mackay
According to experts at the 2nd Annual Oil & Gas Summit which took place in Dublin last month, a degree of preparedness with regards to infrastructure and education is required to fully take advantage of a possible oil find in Ireland. Irish correspondent Aine Faherty reports from the event
The message that oil is most likely to be found off the coast of Ireland was clear at this two-day event; the only question left unanswered is where exactly will it be found?
The Porcupine Basin area in the Atlantic, an area of 1,400 square kilometres to the south west of counties Kerry, Clare and Galway is considered most probable.  In the past, the area has seen some success, now there is massive investment underway.
There will be further exploration in Porcupine with two possible drills taking place between now and 2016, according to Hugh Mackay, CEO, Europa Oil & Gas. Companies involved include Cairn Energy and Kosmos Energy, both have their own rigs.  “As such, they are the masters of their own destiny,” said Hugh.
A number of prospects have also been identified around the Larne-Lough Neagh Basin in County Antrim reported  Dr Andrew Hindle, CEO of InfraStrata with the best estimate being that there could be more than ‘50 million barrels of oil in the area’. This area is to be further investigated with an exploration due to begin later this year.
Could Cork become the oil capital of Ireland?
Gordon McIntosh, director of enterprise, planning and infrastructure for Aberdeen City Council spoke about the services and infrastructure that took Scottish city Aberdeen from a ‘small, underdeveloped fishing town’ to a centre of excellence and the oil capital of Europe.
With many similarities to Aberdeen, Cork could make great strides to become another oil capital said Gordon who cited the city’s good harbour as one of its best assets to support a burgeoning oil industry.
“Education is the key,” said Gordon. Two universities in Aberdeen offer courses relating to the oil industry producing talented individuals who are specifically trained to further strengthen the oil industry.
Worldwide it can be hard to attract people to oil and gas exploration.  With Ireland having thousands of people directly and indirectly involved in oil exploration, the consensus is that an oil find is required soon. Speaking at a panel discussion about how Ireland can adapt to a burgeoning oil industry, Cathal Friel, chairman of Fastnet Oil & Gas said interest in the industry will most certainly develop after such a find.
When, and not if, an oil find happens, the experts say the country must be prepared in advance with infrastructure and education in place. Only then will Ireland be ready to take advantage of such a commodity and feed the industry with the skilled labour force required.
Share your opinion of Ireland’s oil potential with Aine Faherty at