The winds of change threatening an end to oil’s dominance

1 Tony O’Reilly Jnr left Providence Resources On December 6, Providence Resources announced the resignation of long-standing chief executive Tony O’Reilly Jnr. Then, last Monday, Tullow Oil announced that its CEO Paul McDade was also leaving "with immediate effect".

While the announcement from Providence was not entirely unexpected, the news from Tullow came like a bolt out of the blue, with the share price tumbling 70pc. Providence has, in one guise or another, been drilling for oil and gas in offshore Irish waters for almost 40 years.

In 2008, it seemed as if these efforts would finally be rewarded when oil was discovered in its Barryroe field off the coast of Co Cork. These hopes were strengthened four years later when, after further drilling, Providence said Barryroe could contain up to 1.8 billion barrels of oil.

After more than three decades of trying, it appeared the search for oil in Irish waters was finally about to be crowned with success. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot actually. Despite it apparently containing as much oil as a significant North Sea field, Providence has so far found it impossible to secure a partner to help it develop Barryroe. The latest attempt collapsed ignominiously in October, when Providence scrapped a deal with Chinese firm APEC.

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