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Financial Times: Providence in oil discovery near Irish coast

By Dino Mahtani
Published: October 11 2007 04:36 | Last updated: October 11 2007 04:36

Providence Resources has announced a “significant” find off the coast of Ireland, pushing shares in the oil and gas exploration company up almost 16 per cent on Wednesday.

The group, which has its roots in a company founded by Sir Anthony O’Reilly, the Irish billionaire, said a drilling campaign in its Celtic Sea Hook Head concession had exceeded expectations.

Providence shares rose 1p to 7.38p in London, giving it a £177m market value.

Tony O’Reilly Jr, chief executive of Providence, said the find was a mixture of oil and gas, adding that it would pursue further drilling over the next two years.

The group’s announcement has added to interest in exploration off the coast of Ireland, where relatively few oil companies have ventured over recent decades.

In the 1970s and 1980s, penny stocks of oil and gas exploration companies used to represent a sizeable proportion of the Irish stock exchange, but this is no longer the case.

High oil prices and strong economic growth over the past few years in Ireland, which now has infrastructure in place to pipe gas internally, have given companies greater incentives to look at oil exploration there.

Last year, Providence farmed out part of one of its Irish concessions to ExxonMobil, a sign that the mainstream oil industry is taking the country seriously.

Investors have so far looked at Ireland’s oil prospects with mixed feelings after the travails of Ramco, an Aberdeen-based company whose shares collapsed last year after it failed to deliver on promises of a significant find.

The Irish subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell has also been ensnared in a community protest against the building of a gas pipeline in Ireland.

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