Is Ireland sitting on an oil field?

Oilfield workersIreland's troubled economy could be in line for a massive boost after Providence Resources confirmed its Barryroe site, situated 30 miles off the Cork coast, should yield some 280 million barrels of oil.

The revenue from the site, which is being hailed as the first of many, could run into billions of pounds.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The revenue
The money generated from the find will depend on the market value of the oil at the time of extraction, as well as any licensing arrangements.

Under current laws, Ireland takes between 25% and 40% of all natural resources profits. That is much lower than in the UK or Norway, both of which have much greater resources of oil and gas.
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However, with the current value of a barrel of oil at about $110, €85 or £69, even 25% of the revenue should prove a huge boon for a country that has never successfully extracted a drop of oil before.

An Irish oil industry
Providence chief executive Tony O'Reilly Jr told Radio 4 that he believes this find marks the start of a lucrative Irish oil industry.

"The great news today is that Barryroe is on a path towards development," he said. "What we are announcing is the beginning of an Irish oil industry.

"We hope there is a renaissance of interest by international companies who need to come to Ireland and help us to exploit our natural resources. We cannot do it alone."

Providence intends to attract multi-national energy giants to "farm in" to its licence, which it bought from the Irish government for a nominal fee.

This has sparked fears that the oil from Barryroe may never be landed in Ireland, but taken for refinement elsewhere, meaning fewer jobs on Irish soil.

However, Providence claims that its current intention is to take the oil from Barryroe to Cork.

O'Reilly said: "We intend to utilise the structure of Ireland. We have been very clear in that regard. It makes good business sense for us. It is mad that we would take it elsewhere."

Environmental concerns
Not everyone was hoping for the site to prove such a success. Environmentalists are worried about the risks of oil extraction, with both the RSPB and the Irish Green Party speaking of their concerns.

Irish Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said earlier this year: "Oil may be there but there is a limit on how much you can get out, and this is still only a tiny fraction of what would be used. Like any drilling at sea, there are risks to it - the highest standards need to be applied."

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