The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has said he expects the tax terms and regulatory framework for oil and gas exploration will be decided by June.

A new licensing round for exploration companies is due to begin in June.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Pat Rabbitte said Wood Mackenzie, the firm appointed to advise the Government on the issue, is required to report back by the end of April.

Under existing terms, the Government stands to earn 25%-40% of profits of such exploration, depending on the scale of the find.

However, a Dáil committee has recommended higher taxes for future licences.

Mr Rabbitte said the State does not have the money to invest in drilling wells, so it has to bring in big exploration companies.

However, he said there is a balance between being able to attract the companies and on the other hand not having a fiscal regime that repels them.

He said Ireland's tax rate did not seem to be wildly out of line with other European countries.