Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan TD announced the closure of the 2009 Rockall licensing round. Under the round, oil and gas exploration companies were invited to apply for new Frontier exploration licenses in the Rockall basin. The acreage on offer in the Rockall basin off the west coast covers unlicensed blocks in an area of about 117,200 square kilometers.

As part of the 2009 round, applications were received from:

— A group comprising Providence Resources Plc (as operator) with OMV (Exploration) GMBH and Sosina Exploration Ltd as partners. All three are involved in a number of existing exploration licenses.

— Serica Energy Ltd with interest in one existing Frontier exploration license.

Minister Ryan welcomed the applications and acknowledged that “while exploration in remote deep water areas such as the Rockall basin is difficult and costly, there is significant potential reward. The fact that companies already operating in the Irish offshore have sought additional acreage and are prepared to commit to investing further in exploration is a positive signal.

Should licences be granted under this Round, a tax rate of up to 40% would apply. This is very good news for the Exchequer.”

The applications will now be evaluated in accordance with the agreed criteria and a decision on whether or not to offer licenses will be made shortly.