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Irish Atlantic Margin

Europa operates seven licences in the Irish Atlantic Margin, covering an area of 5,818 km2. Four of these licences are in the South Porcupine basin, targeting prospectivity on multiple levels including the Cretaceous; the pre-rift; syn-rift; and post-rift plays.

The Cretaceous stratigraphic play comprises Early Cretaceous turbidite sandstone reservoirs; charged by mature Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous source rocks; and contained in stratigraphic traps with elements of structural closure. The Cretaceous play in Ireland is essentially undrilled and is considered to be analogous to the same play in the equatorial Atlantic Margin province that has delivered the Jubilee and Mahogany oil fields.

Just as Jubilee and Mahogany inspired operators including Europa to target Early Cretaceous turbidite sandstone reservoirs in the Porcupine basin, recent discoveries in other Atlantic basins have opened up the potential for additional plays to be targeted in the Irish Atlantic Margin. In the Flemish Pass basin offshore Newfoundland, Statoil has pioneered the pre-rift play following the Bay du Nord discovery. Offshore Senegal, Cairn’s SNE discovery has opened up the potential for early post-rift sculptural events in the Porcupine. Having its own proprietary 3D seismic provides Europa with valuable technical insights and based on these the Company believes there are at least three essentially undrilled exploration plays in the South Porcupine Basin.

FEL 3/13 and LO 16/2 on the east flank of the Porcupine basin

The combined audited and unaudited gross mean unrisked prospective resource of the two licences is almost 2.4 billion boe.

The Cretaceous fan play is developed in FEL 3/13. A CPR by ERC Equipoise in May 2015 confirmed gross mean unrisked prospective resources of 1.49 billion boe and unrisked NPV10 of US$7 billion across three Cretaceous fan prospects on the licence:

  • Beckett 749 mmbo
  • Wilde 428 mmbo
  • Shaw 315 mmbo
  • Total 1,492 mmbo

Prospect Wilde is considered drill ready with a geological chance of success of 1 in 5. The drill costs are estimated to be US$37 million excluding mobilisation and demobilisation.

In August 2016, phase 1 of FEL 3/13 (and FEL 2/13) was extended by one year to 4 July 2017. The extension will allow Europa to mature existing prospects and perform detailed mapping of all potential prospective levels on the licence, including the pre-rift, syn-rift and post-rift plays, whilst continuing to seek a farm-out partner for drilling.

LO 16/2 covers approximately 522km2 of ground and adjoins the eastern boundary of FEL 3/13. Three new pre-rift prospects with combined gross mean unrisked prospective resources of 895 million boe have been identified on Europa’s 100% owned LO 16/2. The three new prospects were mapped on Europa’s proprietary 3D seismic which was acquired in 2013 and covers both FEL 3/13 and LO 16/2. The pre-rift play has proved very successful in the Flemish Pass basin offshore Newfoundland and it is believed that this may also be developed in the South Porcupine basin in addition to the Cretaceous fan play.

There is clear technical and commercial synergy between the two licences. The one year extension for FEL 3/13 phase 1 enables completion of technical work and integration with LO 16/2.

The west flank of the Porcupine basin


On FEL 2/13, Europa has identified a number of Cretaceous submarine channels which cross the licence from west to east on its proprietary 948km2 3D seismic survey. Four prospects (Doyle A, B, C and Heaney) with gross mean unrisked prospective resources of 595 million boe were mapped on 3D seismic in FEL 2/13. A one year extension for phase 1 of FEL 2/13 will enable completion of technical work.

LO 16/19

The channels identified in FEL 2/13 feed submarine fans developed in LO 16/19. The seismic architecture of the channels in FEL 2/13 contain features consistent with sandstone deposition and Europa believes that these sandstones are also deposited in the fans identified on LO 16/19. There is potential for several Cretaceous submarine fans with a range of 300 million to 1 billion boe gross mean unrisked prospective resources in LO 16/19. In addition, evidence of gas escape features on seismic and sea bed pock marks suggest the presence of an active source rock. Well 43/13-1, which was drilled by BP in 1998 approximately 20km from LO 16/19, saw oil shows and encountered source rocks.

On 8 March 2017, Europa announced the farm-out of a 70% interest in LO 16/19 to leading independent Cairn Energy. Under the terms of the farm-out Cairn will fully fund a US$6million work programme including a 3D seismic survey over LO 16/19 to further mature the prospect inventory towards drillable status.

LO 16/20 and LO 16/21 in the Slyne basin

LO 16/20 and 16/21 are both located in the Greater Corrib area of the Slyne basin and, unlike licences in the Porcupine, represent exploration in a proven play which is in the vicinity of the producing Corrib gas field where substantial gas infrastructure is already in place. The Greater Corrib play comprises Triassic sandstone reservoirs in tilted fault block structures with hydrocarbons generated from Carboniferous source rocks. The licences are partially covered by historic 3D seismic data, as well as extensive 2D seismic.  Water depths range from 300 to 2,000 metres.

Europa has identified a number of prospects and leads on both licences with estimated gross mean unrisked prospective and indicative resources of:

  • LO 16/20 1.0 tcf gas
  • LO 16/21 0.5 tcf gas

Europa is currently focused on maturing the leads to drillable prospect status by reprocessing the historic 3D seismic over LO 16/20 and LO 16/21 and securing a farm-in partner with which to drill a low-cost, low-risk exploration well.

Were these leads and prospects to be matured to drillable status, it is expected that the geological chance of success would be high, drill costs low (reflecting the comparatively shallow water depth) while the proximity to gas infrastructure is potentially another highly favourable factor.   For example, prospect TR1 in LO 16/20 lies 16km to the northwest of Corrib in water depths of 500 metres.

LO 16/22 in the Padraig basin

LO 16/22 is located in the Padraig basin which is a remnant Jurassic basin on the eastern margin of the Rockall Trough.  The most relevant analogue for the Padraig is the conjugate margin play offshore Newfoundland in the Flemish Pass basin which was opened up by Statoil’s play-making Bay du Nord oil discovery.  Most industry efforts are concentrated on exploring for this play in the South Porcupine basin, but Europa’s restoration of the conjugate margin prior to Atlantic seafloor spreading suggests the possibility that the Padraig basin could be a better fit with the Flemish Pass basin.

Good quality 2D seismic acquired in 1998 suggests the presence of structures of significant size. In addition multiple leads in both pre-rift and syn-rift hydrocarbon plays have been mapped in water depths ranging from 800 to 2,000 metres.  Gross mean unrisked indicative resources are estimated to be in the range of 300 to 600 million boe.

Europa is currently focused on maturing the leads to drillable prospect status by utilising the historic 2D seismic and wealth of high quality technical work previously carried out by major oil companies.   A farm-in partner will be sought with whom to drill an exploration well. 

To view detailed maps of all Irish licences click here