ENERGY Minister Pat Rabbitte, right, has announced 13 new licences for gas and oil exploration off Ireland's coasts.
The licences have been granted for the Rockall, Slyne, and Porcupine basins and were granted following an assessment of 15 applications submitted last May.
Mr Rabbitte said the State did not have the resources to fund the exploration and he rejected claims that Ireland's licensing scheme was excessively generous.
It is expected that exploration could start immediately. Some 12 companies are involved in the 13 awards.