The North Sea has long been in decline. An era in which the British Islands fueled Europe’s oil and gas needs, which has lasted for over a generation, is slowly coming to a close.
But while Scotland (and thus, the UK) has been the base for North Sea oil development, Ireland has largely been left out of the hydrocarbon bonanza. Having never developed its own oil and gas resources, Ireland has been a sort of forgotten step child to its larger neighbor just across the Irish Sea.
However, that could soon change. A recent announcement about the large potential for oil and gas off the coast of Ireland is raising hopes that Ireland’s day may finally arrive. For now, low oil prices will keep rapid development at bay. But when oil prices rebound, with some luck, Ireland may no longer stand in a British shadow in terms of energy development.
Ireland has never been a significant player in the energy world. It faces some challenging exploration conditions, including rough Atlantic waters and drilling depths often between 500 and 2,000 meters.
Offshore Ireland has been a tough nut to crack. There have been over 200 wells drilled around Ireland, but only two of them have yielded commercial discoveries. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS.A), with its partners Statoil (NYSE: STO) and Vermilion Energy (NYSE: VET), developed the Corrib gas field, a natural gas project off the northwest coast of Ireland. Even that had an…