- Irish oil and gas company Providence Resources has been offered a petroleum exploration licence over Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, by the province's Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

The initial licence term, its first in Northern Ireland, is for five years with a decision on a well commitment required within three years.

Providence says it has committed to carrying out technical studies of the sub-surface geology during the first three years to determine the petroleum potential and inform its decision on a well commitment.

It will operate the licence with a 100% equity interest.

CEO Tony O'Reilly said, 'Providence has a clear corporate focus to evaluate the hydrocarbon potential of the island of Ireland and this new licence over Rathlin complements our substantial Atlantic Margin and Irish Sea acreage portfolio'

Technical director John O'Sullivan added, 'The oil exploration potential of the Rathlin Basin was highlighted by the onshore 2008 Ballinlea-1 well, which encountered hydrocarbon shows and recovered some oil during testing.

'We interpret this well to have been drilled on the margin of the basin which extends and deepens towards Rathlin. The potential under Rathlin Island itself is of interest as this location is interpreted to directly overlie the most mature and potentially most productive part of the basin.'

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