Irish oil and gas firm Providence Resources has won a petroleum exploration license over the Northern Ireland's Rathlin Island.

The license was granted by Northern Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in response to a recent application made by Irish oil and gas explorer.

The initial license term is for five years with a decision on a well commitment required within three years.

Providence will carry out a number of technical studies of the subsurface geology during the first three years to find out the petroleum potential and inform the decision on the well commitment.

Providence will operate the license with a 100% equity interest.

Providence chief executive Tony O’Reilly said that the company has a clear corporate focus to evaluate the hydrocarbon potential of the island of Ireland and this new license over Rathlin complements its substantial Atlantic Margin and Irish Sea acreage portfolio.