HC Deb 11 July 1985 vol 82 cc523-4W
Mr. Beggs

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what geological surveys have been carried out off the North Antrim coast to investigate the reserves of gas and oil; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what applications for licences have been made for gas and oil exploration off the North Antrim coast; which applications have been granted; and which refused, giving in each case the grounds for refusal.

Dr. Boyson

Two offshore seismic surveys have been completed by companies which held petroleum licences for areas of land and sea along the north coast of Counties Antrim and Londonderry. Much more prospecting will have to be undertaken in this area before there will be any indication of its potential for gas or oil.

A petroleum licence covering an area of 138 sq miles onshore and offshore centred on Rathlin Island was applied for and granted in 1980 but was revoked on 28 June 1985 as a consequence of non-fulfilment of licence commitments. Three competing applications were received for an area of 545 sq miles onshore and offshore along the north coast of Counties Antrim and Londonderry. In 1980 these were assessed on the basis of the proposed programmes, the technical competence of the applicants, their financial resources and their exploration experience. A licence for the area was granted in 1982.