Ireland blocks offshore Barryroe oil, gas project sparking legal challenge
The Irish government has turned down an application for new drilling needed to develop oil and gas at the long-delayed Barryroe project off the Irish coast in a move triggering legal proceedings from a project partner.
Project operator Barryroe Offshore Energy said late May 19 that Ireland’s environment ministry had turned down a new lease request on the grounds it was not satisfied with the financial capability of the applicants.
Partners Lansdowne Oil & Gas said it has confirmed the lease application for new drilling has been turned down, but said it expects to pursue international arbitration to protect its investment in the Barryroe project.
“The company believes there is clear evidence of the [Department of the Environment, Climate, and Communications] and the minster failing to act in a fair and equitable manner with the Barryroe partners consistent with its obligations under Irish and international law,” Lansdowne said in a statement.
Lansdowne said it has invested $20 million in the Barryroe project to date
Potentially Ireland’s first-ever oil field development, Barryroe was first discovered by Esso in 1974 but was deemed non-commercial due to its waxy crude and poor fiscal terms. Current operators Barryroe Offshore declared the field Ireland’s first commercial offshore oil find in 2012. The shallow water field is estimated to hold 81.2 million barrels of recoverable oil in its main reservoirs from a total of 278 million barrels in place. Some 400 Bcf of in-place gas is also estimated to lie in a separate formation above the oil reservoir.
Formerly known as Providence Resources, Barryroe has spent much of the past decade trying to get the project off the ground, and a 2018 farm-out deal with a Chinese partner fell through in 2019. In early 2022, Landsdowne said the Barryroe oil field could produce 20,000 b/d from its main reservoirs and generate “robust” returns with Brent over $70/b.
Ireland’s hopes for its first oil production took a major hit in 2019 after the country announced plans to ban new oil offshore exploration as part of efforts to shift to a carbon-free economy. Although the ban does not affect existing licenses, the move raised concerns over the window of opportunity for Barryroe to be developed.
Barryroe Offshore operates the Barryroe field with an 80% stake and Lansdowne holds the remaining 20%.