DUBLIN, May 14 (Reuters) - Explorer Petrel Resources Plc is seeking a larger partner to help it fund drilling off the coast of Ireland and hopes to conclude a deal in coming months, as it capitalises on a surge of interest in the country’s oil potential.
Ireland’s oil prospects have come to the fore after positive results last year at the Barryroe field in the Celtic Sea, which now looks set to be developed, turning the country into an oil producer.
Dublin-based Petrel, which has a stock market value of about 14 million pounds ($21.5 million), said on Tuesday it was in talks about bringing in a partner to help fund drilling off Ireland’s coast, which due to the deep water and expensive rigs costs tens of millions of dollars.
“We’ve been approached by a few players that we’re now in discussions with,” Petrel Managing Director David Horgan said in an interview, adding he expected to conclude the discussions in coming months.
Attractive tax rates in Ireland and the large potential size of yet-to-discovered oil fields off the country’s Atlantic coast have sparked the interest of the world’s biggest oil companies, such as ExxonMobil, which is drilling a well there.
“There’s good interest in Ireland,” said Horgan, describing parties who had shown interest as large independents and oil majors.
Another Dublin-based explorer, Fastnet Oil & Gas, is also in the process of trying to secure a partner for its Irish licences, while Providence Resources is seeking a partner to help foot the bill of up to $1.7 billion to get the Barryroe field into production.
U.S.-based Kosmos Energy, a company worth around $4.37 billion, recently signed a deal with minnow Europa to explore off the coast of Ireland.
Shares in Petrel soared 156 percent to 32.5 pence in a day last November, when the company said geological studies led to a belief that one of its drilling targets had a billion-barrel potential.
The stock has since pared those gains and traded at 18.5 pence by mid-morning Tuesday.