O’Reilly Jnr speaks to Rathlin residents

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A MEMBER of one of Ireland’s richest families - Tony O’Reilly Jnr - has travelled to Rathlin to speak to Islanders about his company’s exploration plans for oil in the area.

O’Reilly is the Chief Executive Officer of Providence Resources and he and colleagues met with 35 people in the Parochial Hall on Rathlin.

The Rathlin Development & Community Association website said: ‘There was a preliminary public meeting with Providence Resources in the Parochial Hall.

‘Thirty five people took the time to listen to a presentation by Providence CEO Tony O’Reilly Jnr, and to ask a variety of questions.

‘Including O’Reilly, Providence had four representatives at the meeting. Also attending was Derek Reay of the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland.

‘Providence has already received an onshore exploration licence from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland, and is awaiting an offshore licence from the Department of Energy and Climate Change in London for the ‘Rathlin Basin’ - a large body of water off the north Antrim coast that stretches well beyond the island.

‘Questions covered a wide range of issues including the potential infrastructural and environmental impact on the island; the rights of residents and landowners; the responsibilities of an exploration and production company, and the issue of UK and EU environmental regulations.

‘Providence also made clear assurances that they would keep the island community informed of developments over the coming months, and throughout the ongoing process,’ said the website.

Meanwhile, at a recent meeting of Providence in Dublin, shareholders were told, they will begin oil flow testing on its discoveries in the seas around Ireland this summer.

Around 99 per cent of shareholders at the company’s extraordinary general meeting in Dublin voted to approve a rights issue which will raise £40 million sterling for Providence.

The money will be used to pay for various exploration and testing operations around the Irish coast through this year and next and to restructure some of its debt.

Tony O’Reilly Jnr told the meeting that the exploration and testing work would begin with its Barryroe prospect off the south coast this summer. The field contains about 59 million barrels of oil.

The work this year will test the rate at which oil flows from the wells there, which is a precursor to moving to commercial development, which, if it were to go ahead, Mr O’Reilly said would take place in around 2013.

The company and its partners also intend to begin testing the Dalkey field, an area of the Irish Sea stretching from 10km east of the Dublin coast towards the Isle of Man, that could potentially hold oil or gas.

It will follow this through with further work on Rathlin Island, where it purchased a licence last year, and then around to the west coast.

Moyle councillors were told the Council has a commitment from Providence that the next time they are coming to Rathlin they will call in with the Council to discuss the latest position.