Shares in Providence have fallen sharply after the company said an exploration well it was involved in off the south west coast would be abandoned.

The company said preliminary analysis of the Dunquin North well found it to be water-bearing and, as a result, it would be plugged and abandoned.

John O’Sullivan, technical director of Providence, said there is the possibility that that there was oil in the well which subsequently leaked out.

However the company was more optimistic about its Dunquin South prospect, which Mr O’Sullivan said appeared to have a thicker seal.

Dunquin North is operated by ExxonMobil, which also holds a 25.5% stake in the well. Providence is one of a number of companies to hold an interest in the well.