From Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – The Irish government said on Thursday it had awarded oil and gas licences to companies including oil majors Eni <ENI.MI>, Exxon <XOM.N> and Statoil <STL.OL>, allowing them to explore for hydrocarbons off the coast of Ireland.

The energy ministry has awarded 14 new licences as a first phase of a tender for offshore blocks that gives companies access to new exploration areas for two years, it said. The round attracted 43 applications.

“This is by far the largest number of applications received in any licensing round held in the Irish offshore,” said Joe McHugh, Ireland’s minister for communications, energy and natural resources, in a statement.

“At a time of very low oil prices the strong interest in the round is very positive.”

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