A major 2D seismic survey has been approved that will go a long way towards revealing the true oil and gas exploration potential of Ireland’s Atlantic Margin. “At a cost of €20 million, this is is by far the largest regional seismic survey acquired in the Irish offshore and will provide a regional grid of high-quality seismic data over Ireland’s frontier basins,” said Minister for Natural Resources Fergus O’Dowd, who granted the approval to conduct the survey. O'Dowd, who is set to speak at the Engineers Ireland Annual Conference on 6 June, said that the 18,000km full-fold seismic survey was also designed to infill data gaps that exist, particularly in the Southern Porcupine, Rockall and Hatton basins. "Most importantly, the survey should go a long way towards revealing the true oil and gas potential of Ireland’s frontier basins," he added."The data should allow resource potential to be predicted with much greater confidence and enable both the industry and the Government to adequately evaluate future licensing opportunities.” The survey will be untertaken by ENI Ireland BV in conjunction with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources in the Atlantic waters of the Irish-designated Continental Shelf. The survey vessel BGP Explorer is operating from Killybegs and the survey will be conducted for a duration of 145 days. Depending on weather conditions, it is possible that part of the survey will be acquired in 2014, according to the Department. Minister O’Dowd said he was pleased that ENI Ireland had agreed to provide strong technical support and operatorship for the survey, with the close involvement of his Department’s technical staff. The cost of the research is being jointly funded from the Department's own research funding and funding leveraged from industry.