OIL has been found off the west coast for the first time in over 30 years, a discovery which could spark a new rush of exploration drilling.
The discovery was made by a small UK company Serica Energy, which was drilling for gas.The find was made 100km off the west coast, it emerged yesterday.
Shares in the small exploration company Serica Energy soared by 18pc on the London Stock Market after news of the discovery broke.
Serica chief Paul Ellis said that while it was too early to say how much oil had been found, the company now intended to carry out new site surveys to choose a location for a follow-up well next year.
The drilling, which cost the company around $50m (€36m), was paid for under an agreement with Serica's new partner, the German company RWE. In return
for paying the cost of the well the German's secured a 50pc stake in the find,
with Serica holding the balance.
The discovery is likely to re-awaken interest in oil exploration off the west coast, including in these areas which are not currently under licence.
"This is the first oil discovery west of Ireland for nearly 30 years," Mr Ellis said, adding that its 600 sq km licence area contains several prospects which will now be evaluated as potential drilling targets.