Dalkey oil drilling plan shelved

An energy company planning to test drill for oil about six miles from some of Ireland’s most sought after real estate has been forced to postpone explorations.

Providence Resources has given up its licence amid concerns that it faced legal challenges and undue delays over the lack of clarity around regulations on Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA).

The energy company plans to make a new application to drill once EU rules from 1999 have been put in place.

Tony O’Reilly, chief executive of Providence, said errors in how European regulations have been transposed into Irish law would have seen the licence challenged in court.

“Whilst it is frustrating that this situation has arisen and caused a delay to our planned activities, we feel it is in the best interests for all concerned to surrender the licence and allow the Government to make the necessary amendments,” he said.

“Despite the delay to the planned drilling activities, we remain very excited about the potential of this exploration prospect.”

Providence had been granted permission for a well site survey on the Kish Bank on the edge of Dublin Bay as well rights to drill an exploration well on the Dalkey Island prospect in 85ft of water.

The scheme would have seen testing for reserves on the southern edge of Dublin Bay – visible from Dalkey and some of the country’s most exclusive addresses and homes owned by stars like Bono and Enya.

Jan O’Sullivan, junior minister for housing and planning, said she will review the EIA regulations “with a view to removing any difficulties that may exist”.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government agreed to the licence last year.

The exploration has been opposed by environmentalists, including the national trust body An Taisce and concerned groups of locals.

According to an Oil Spill Contingency Plan for the Department of the Environment, a serious oil spill from the Dalkey basin could travel 6km in the first hour.

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