Business Person of the Month

March 2012: Tony O’Reilly Jr, CEO, Providence Resources

By Business & Finance
02 April 2012

When oil gushed off the Cork coast last month, Tony O’Reilly Jr, long overshadowed by his twin Gavin, became, for a while at least,  top baron in a family long used to the moniker.


Last month Providence Resources announced that testing at its Barryroe exploration well off the Cork coast showed oil flows at a commercial rate almost double that of pre-drilling targets. For the oil well to be commercially viable, oil flow rates of 1,800 barrels per day (bopb) were needed but initial testing instead showed high quality oil flowing at 3,514 bopd. Providence has since revealed that a subsequent test of the gas flow rate at the same site had also far exceeded expectations.

Conservative estimates have put the Barryroe oil resource at 59 million barrels. Providence has an 80% stake in the well. Lansdowne Oil & Gas have the remaining 20%.

Providence’s portfolio of production, appraisal and exploration assets includes licence interests in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 2011, Providence announced plans to invest with its partners upwards of $500mn in the drilling of a number of exploration and development wells in six different basins offshore Ireland. This multi-year programme, which began in November 2011, represents the largest drilling campaign ever carried out offshore Ireland.

Far exceeded

Following the latest test at the Barryroe well, Providence CEO Tony O’Reilly Jr said: “We are very pleased to confirm that the gas zone was far more productive than we had anticipated. The well lies just 3 km from installed pipeline infrastructure which may provide a future route to monetise any surplus Barryroe gas production.”

He continued: “It is particularly pleasing to note that both the oil and gas zones have far exceeded our pre-drill expectations, both in terms of reservoir development and more importantly, oil and gas flow rates.”

Success in 2012

In early 2012, it was announced that PR Singleton, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the firm, was offered the licence over six blocks in the Rathlin Basin, offshore Northern Ireland by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) as part of the UK’s 26th seaward oil and gas licensing round announced on December 30. Providence said the initial licence phase covers six years, and under the terms of the deal, a well must be drilled within this period to progress to the next phase.

Tony O’Reilly Jr

Prior to his work with Providence, O’Reilly was chief executive of Wedgwood from January 2001 through to September 2005. He was the chairman of the London-listed mining company Arcon International Resources, until it merged with Lundin Mining Corporation in April 2005. He worked as the CEO of Arcon from 1996 to 2000, having worked in the position of deputy CEO from 1994 and as director of planning and corporate development from September 1992. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, he worked in mergers and acquisitions at Dillon Read in London, and in corporate finance at Coopers & Lybrand in New York, advising natural resource companies. He is also director of the O’Reilly Foundation. He was educated at Clongowes Wood College in Naas, and went on to graduate from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA in 1990 with a BA in Economics and History.

CV highlights

  • CEO Providence Resources since 2005
  • CEO of mining company Arcon between 1996-2000
  • CEO of Wedgwood between 2001-2005
  • Director of the O’Reilly Foundation
  • Educated at Brown University and Clongowes Woods.


Merc logoBusiness & Finance, Business Person of the Month

Business & Finance, in association with MERC Partners, has been awarding excellence in business through the ‘Business Person of the Month’ award over the last number of years. These awards seek to recognise noteworthy achievements in business leadership, and particularly those that make a telling contribution to the wider business community in Ireland.