Friday, February 22 08:10:02
Oil giant Exxon is preparing to begin drilling off the Irish coast within weeks, an exercise that could cost it and its partners E200 million.
Exxon has a 27.5 per cent interest in the Dunquin prospect in the southern part of the Porcupine Basin, more than 130km from the southwest coast, and has plans to begin exploratory drilling there shortly.
According to estimates, the area could hold four billion barrels of oil and a similarly large quantity of gas. However, that has not been proven and Exxon's drilling is geared at establishing what hydrocarbons the area might hold.
Industry sources speculated yesterday that it could begin drilling as early as April as the rig that it has hired for the purpose - the Eirik Raude - has become available ahead of schedule.
In addition, the multinational has hired four craft, known as platform supply vessels, to service the rig from French group Bourbon.
According to some reports, the contract with Bourbon begins on March 15th and will run for 120 days, with an option of extending it by a further two months.
Those dates would not necessarily coincide with the beginning and end of Exxon's proposed drilling operations.
The multinational itself said yesterday that it remained committed to begin drilling in the Porcupine Basin in the first half of 2013. The Irish Times
Japanese bank Nomura yesterday gave Bank of Ireland shares a buy rating and said they contained a high upside.
The bank said it expected a E1.8 billion rights issue by the Irish bank to enable it repurchase preference shares held by the State.
The shares are part of the bank's tier one capital and formed part of its bailout. The bank may want to redeem the shares during March as otherwise it loses the ability to repurchase them at par.
Nomura said further capital measures are the key signposts for the stock, and that the bank's capital position could develop better in 2013 than the market expects.
It said it sees a material upside if positive outcomes for the signposts play out. The Irish Times
The National Assets Management Agency (Nama) is to develop a string of new commercial, infrastructure and residential projects within the Dublin Central Business District, primarily focused on the city's Docklands.
The agency's nationwide plan to invest E2 billion in completing projects up to 2016 will primarily address a shortage of quality office accommodation in the capital's Docklands area and elsewhere.
It is also designed to assist the on-going expansion of the financial services sector and the development of new business and technology hubs, the agency said.
Nama chairman Frank Daly said the agency was evaluating residential projects where demand existed in Dublin and in other major growth centres throughout the country.
Speaking to the Association of European Journalists in Dublin, Mr Daly said: "We hold security over a considerable number of properties and lands on both sides of the river Liffey and are currently assessing the commercial feasibility of a wide range of projects - not least those in the undeveloped part of North Wall Quay in the north Docklands." The Irish Times
At an event organised by Bloomberg in London, Mr Noonan said the country was now looking to prove it was ready to exit the bailout.
"I think the issuance will be 10-year and that will be one of the serious tests of market conditions and of our ability to get back into the market," Mr Noonan said.
"I would like that we would be back into the markets fully by 2014 . . . and at present I think we are on track."
Mr Noonan said Ireland had received assurances that the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund were prepared to help it ease its way back into longer-term bond markets and that it also planned to mobilise ECB support once the time was right. The Irish Independent
The ECB now owns considerably more Irish debt than the E8.5bn of bonds controlled by US investor Michael Hasenstab's Franklin Templeton fund.
However, the bonds held by the ECB are valued at E13.6bn - less than the so-called 'face value' of the assets.
The ECB also revealed that it holds more than E200bn of IOUs issued by euro-area governments, including Ireland.
It bought the IOUs under a secretive purchasing scheme aimed at stabilising the markets by buying bonds at times when normal investors were afraid to invest. The Irish Independent