Prospecting licences

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Prospecting Licences

387. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources if he will confirm that a prohibition on the process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking exists here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49177/13]

396. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of his decision not to award onshore petroleum prospecting licences due to the failure by companies (details supplied) to comply with the work programmes as set out by his Department; if he will confirm that the companies being in breach of the specific performance of the licensing terms, 2007, have vacated their position and that the licensing options held by aforementioned companies have now lapsed and are of no further effect, have now been revoked; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49178/13]

397. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parliamentary Question No. 465 of 19 February 2013 if he will confirm to which specific work programmes proposed he was referring; if he will also confirm what was so unique about the nature of these work programmes which precluded him from granting petroleum prospecting licences to the onshore licensing option holders and onshore petroleum prospecting licence applicants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49179/13]

398. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of the fact that companies (details supplied) have been granted onshore licensing options since 1 March, 2011 the reason he has not issued failure notices to the companies to hold a petroleum prospecting licence; the reason his Department has not recovered the appropriate penalties from the companies concerned as required by the licensing terms, 2007; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49180/13]

400. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in view of his decision not to award onshore petroleum prospecting licences due to the failure by companies (details supplied) to comply with the work programmes as set out by his Department and that the companies having vacated their position, if he will confirm that until the licensing options are put out to tender again, in accordance with Directive 94/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, and in the event that a company tenders successfully and is awarded such an option there are no companies permitted to lawfully operate with a licensing option here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49241/13]

401. Deputy Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan asked the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources further to Parlimentary Questions Nos. 463, 464 and 465 of 2 February 2013, in view of the fact that there is a requirement on the part of companies (details supplied) to hold a petroleum prospecting licence during the full period of a licensing option under the licensing terms 2007(13b), if he will explain, following his admission in his answers that the companies concerned do not hold PPLs, the reason he has allowed the companies to continue to hold onshore licensing options when they do not comply with the terms of the onshore licensing terms; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49242/13]

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Pat Rabbitte): I propose to take Questions Nos. 387, 396 to 398, inclusive, 400 and 401 together.

The three companies referred to in the Questions were awarded onshore Licensing Options in February 2011 for a period of two years from 1 March 2011 to 28 February 2013. While applications for Petroleum Prospecting Licences were submitted by the three companies, no such authorisations were granted due to the limited nature of the work programmes to be carried out under the Licensing Options.

The Licensing Option work programmes allowed the companies to evaluate the natural gas potential of the acreage largely based on desktop studies of existing data. Exploration drilling was not permitted under the Licensing Options. The term of all three Licensing Options expired on 28 February 2013.

Tamboran Resources and Enegi Oil plc have submitted applications for a follow-on Exploration Licence. Both companies have complied with their Licensing Option work programme obligations. My Department has written to the two companies, informing them that further assessment of their applications must necessarily await the outcome of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Research Programme into the use of hydraulic fracturing. This research is expected to conclude in 2015.

With regard to the Deputy’s question regarding the further award of petroleum authorisations including Licencing Options, I have confirmed on a number of occasions that I do not propose to consider applications for petroleum authorisations in respect of other onshore areas until the EPA Research Programme has concluded and there has been time to consider its findings.

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