Exploration company Fastnet Oil and Gas has said the latest independent assessment of its Shanagarry licence in the North Celtic Sea confirms the significant resource potential of the site.

An independent assessment on the block off the south coast of Ireland reveals that it could contain nearly 1.3 billion barrels of oil.

The study by SLR Consulting indicates that the area could contain a total of 1.298 billion barrels of oil and 1.342 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The Shanagarry licence covers an areas of 123 square km and is comparable in size to the Kinsale gas field and Barryroe oil field structures.

Fastnet said it believes the Celtic Sea is set to be transformed over the next 12 months as it once again becomes Ireland's foremost oil and gas basin.

It pointed out that the area was drilled by Marathon in 1984 when oil and gas prices were low and before the discovery and appraisal of Barryroe and the Dragon field in Cardigan Bay.

The company farmed into the Shanagarry licence last year and now operates and holds an 82.35% working interest in the field.

''Fastnet's 3D seismic programmes and farm-out activity places the company in a unique position in the Celtic Sea to provide running room for international oil companies seeking to add offshore Ireland to their 'core area' portfolio's,'' commented Fastnet's managing director Paul Griffiths.