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Petroleum Licensing

Petroleum Licensing in Northern Ireland

Any person who wants to explore for, drill for or extract oil or gas in Northern Ireland must hold a Petroleum Licence granted by DETI under the Petroleum (Production) Act (Northern Ireland) 1964. The application and licensing process is underpinned by regulations which, among other things, set out the arrangements for making and determining applications, permissible terms and conditions for granting a Petroleum Licence and the model clauses which may be incorporated in a Petroleum Licence.

On 29th June 2010 the Department published a Notice (2010/C169/4) in the Official Journal of the European Union announcing the availability of all of onshore Northern Ireland for Petroleum Licence applications and inviting applications by 27th August 2010. The Department assessed the applications received by this date and granted four licences. The licence numbers, licensee names and areas under licence are given below.

Licence No Licensee(s) Area
PL1/10 Infrastrata plc Central Larne - Lough Neagh Basin
Cairn Energy, Brigantes and Terrain Energy Ltd
PL2/10 Tamboran Resources Pty Limited Lough Allen Basin - North
PL3/10 Rathlin Energy Limited Rathlin Basin
PL5/10 Providence Resources plc Rathlin Island

A map showing the extent of the licence areas is available for download below.

Current Northern Ireland petroleum licence map (Dec 2012)

Copies of the original Petroleum Licence documents and the initial guidance notes supplied by DETI to the Licensees are available for download below. The guidance incorporates recommendations received from government departments, agencies and other organisations after the Department informed them of its intention to grant the licences.

Current petroleum licensing opportunities

All of onshore Northern Ireland, with the exception of those licensed areas shown on the above mentioned map, area available for Petroleum Licence applications. Applications will be considered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis – i.e. unless two or more valid applications are made (received by the Department) on the same day then the first such application received will be assessed before any other applications, for coincident or overlapping areas, received later.

Interested parties are invited to contact Minerals and Petroleum Branch (e-mail: for licensing administration and Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (e-mail: for technical issues, in the first instance.

The Application form, Guidance for applicants and other relevant information is set out below.

Application form and Guidance for applicants

Application Form for Petroleum Licence

Appendix A - Financial Capacity

Appendix B - Technical Capacity

Appendix C - Environmental Awareness

Any questions raised by applicants and answered by DETI or GSNI will be shared with all applicants. This Q&A material will be updated regularly.

Underpinning legislation

(Please note that the 1987 Regulations have been amended by the Petroleum Production (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 – see below. In particular, regulations 2 and 3 (applications for licences) and Schedule 1 (form of application for a licence) have been substituted and substantial amendments have been made to Schedule 2 (model clauses).  

Technical information

Information on Northern Ireland's prospectivity, exploration data and publications can be viewed on the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland website.

Geological Survey of Northern Ireland


Strategic Environmental Assessment of Petroleum Licensing in the Internal Waters of Northern Ireland (Belfast Lough and Larne Lough)

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) is currently developing a criteria for Petroleum Licensing in the Internal Waters of Northern Ireland (the Plan). The plan will provide a framework for how petroleum licensing will be undertaken in the internal waters of Northern Ireland. Follow the link below for more information

Petroleum Licensing in the Internal Waters of Northern Ireland (Belfast Lough and Larne Lough)