Current Plans

Rathlin Island and Rathlin Basin

Rathlin Island is shaded green
(Communication from Councillor Dónal Cunningham SDLP, Moyle District Council, 29th January 2013)

The Providence oil company has had a number of consultations with the Rathlin Island community.  Providence are entirely aware of the community’s opposition to:

– Fracking
– Any drilling operations on the island
– Any drilling operations in the protected marine conservation area
– The communities preference for the renewable tidal energy projects in the neighbouring Fair Head and Torr Head off shore sites

From the outset, Providence have insisted that their target is oil, and that they have no interest or track record in fracking or shale gas. The Rathlin community by and large accept this. The Providence proposal (which has not been released yet) seems likely to target an area in the Rathlin Sound which would be accessed from the onshore Ballycastle side with nothing visible above the sea surface. Exploratory drilling is expected to commence in the first quarter of 2014. Drilling from onshore gives the community a better chance to scrutinise their plans via DOE application (drill pad) as opposed to DECC for offshore. The Island community would prefer renewables to fossil fuels, but it is recognised that Westminster DECC  are likely to approve a mix of energy sources. Rathlin Island has fantastic natural tidal energy resources right on its doorstep with the potential to build a world class industry.

P.R. Singleton Ltd, the UK subsidiary of Providence Resources P.l.c. was awarded an onshore exploration licence PL5/10 by the Dept. of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) on February 22nd 2011.  The area licenced covers nearly 15 km2, and is essentially the area of Rathlin Island. The licence was awarded on the basis that PR Singleton carry out a DETINI approved work programme within a five year term.  The work programme consists predominately of desk studies which will assist PR Singleton in determining the hydrocarbon potential of the basin.

Licencing in Northern Ireland is structured such that there is a “break point” after Year 3.  The company can then decide whether to continue with the licence or relinquish the acreage.  If the company decides to progress the licence then a well is required to be drilled before Year 5. To date, just one deep hydrocarbon exploration well has been drilled (previously) in the basin, the onshore Ballinlea-1, which was drilled by Rathlin Energy Limited who reported that samples of good quality oil were brought to the surface for analysis.

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