The Irish Government has awarded 14 new oil and gas licences to companies that include Eni, Exxon and Statoil after concluding the first phase of awards in the 2015 Atlantic Margin Licensing Round.
The new licences will allow the companies to explore for hydrocarbons off the coast of Ireland for two years.
This phase of awards focuses on an area in the southern Porcupine Basin, where a number of applications included proposals to acquire new seismic surveys later in 2016.
Ireland Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Joe McHugh said: "The response to the round has been extremely positive, with 43 applications for licensing options received by the deadline of September 2015.
"This is by far the largest number of applications received in any licensing round held in the Irish offshore. At a time of very low oil prices, the strong interest in the Round is very positive.
"Industry’s response to the round demonstrates the perceived positive exploration opportunity of Ireland’s offshore and highlights confidence in the Irish regulatory process and the ability of industry to do business in Ireland."
Nexen, Europa, Scotia and Woodside are the other companies, which secured the licences in the first phase.
The government is planning to conduct second and final phase of awards during May.
The round, which attracted applications from major, mid-cap and smaller companies, closed in September 2015.
In 18 November 2014, McHugh attended the PETEX oil and gas exploration exhibition and conference in London to promote the licensing round.
Image: The new licences will allow the companies to explore for hydrocarbons off the coast of Ireland. Photo: courtesy of Ireland’s Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.