Intelligent Energy

Lucky strike? Ireland finds oil

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Think 'thick dark liquid' and 'Ireland', and Guinness springs to mind. Now something else is flowing on the Emerald Isle. Oil that is. They used to call it Texas Tea. Now is it Celtic Stout?

The Barryroe well is one of many potential oil and gas sources in the Celtic Sea.

Think "thick dark liquid" and "Ireland", and Guinness springs to mind. Now something else is flowing on the Emerald Isle. Oil that is.

Not the only dark liquid flowing in Ireland.

Irish exploration company Providence Resources plc announced this morning that it has tapped a commercial well 30 miles off the coast of County Cork in southeast Ireland that will yield nearly 4,000 barrels of oil a day.

It's not exactly the luck of the Irish. The industry has been searching for petroleum in the country's territory for about 50 years. Irish journalist Kevin Myers once likened the chance of success to Chad putting a man on the moon.

It's "been a long time coming," Providence CEO Tony O'Reilly Jr. said in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today news program.

And the 3,514 barrels a day is a mere shot glass in world volumes - Saudi Arabia is currently pumping about 10 million barrels a day.

It is, however,  almost double the 1,800 barrels that O'Reilly said Providence needs to make a profit. The Irish government will tax the oil at somewhere between 25-to-40 percent, giving a much needed boost to the public coffers, he added.

And one strike could lead to another. According to O'Reilly the well taps into a field that holds an estimated 60 million recoverable barrels. "We've got the whole Atlantic margin," he said. Providence's find at the Barryroe oil well is in the Celtic Sea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean. The area could also yield natural gas - Providence's press release says the company is testing for gas at Barryroe.

Esso, now ExxonMobil, first found oil in the region in the 1970s, but no explorations have tapped a commercially viable amount until Providence's find, the BBC states. A video (embedded below) on Providence's website said today's higher oil prices have boosted the economics. Barryroe is part of a $500 million drilling program by the company and its partner Lansdowne Oil and Gas.

If you like oil, and you're Irish, you just got an early St. Patrick's Day present. They used to call it Texas Tea. Now is it Celtic Stout?  Irish Elexir? Whatever its name, here it is wrapped up in a video:

Map from Providence Resources website. Guinness photo from Wikimedia.

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure