Shell-Agip consortium are drilling for oil in their first prospecting mission off the west coast of Ireland.

For over a month now, an oil rig has been drilling into the Atlantic seabed, 100 miles from Loop Head, off the coast of county Clare. This is the Shell company's first operation in Irish waters, and the rig is working in 1,500 feet of water, 500 feet deeper than the North Sea oil wells. No mean feat in terms of engineering, the rig covers an area the size of a football pitch, and is held in position by eight 15-ton anchors. To guard against pollution, it has a blowout preventer, which is constantly monitored on the seabed by circuit television.  

Minister for Industry and Commerce Justin Keating visits the oil rig with a delegation.

The work is hard, but the pay is good.

A crew of 70 work on the rig and over half of them are Irish. Oil rig workers are paid well, and seem able to put up with the hardships of working there, 

The off time amenities are pretty good, you know, so generally I think it’s ok, I like it.

The giant structure floats on two massive hulls, submerged 80 feet under the sea, but manages to stay steady in spite of Atlantic storms, which can bring waves 50 feet high.  

Shell-Agip will not say how far they have drilled so far, but admit they are halfway to their target depth.  

An RTÉ News report first broadcast on 19 May 1977. The reporter is Tom McCaughren.