"This is one of the most important stories of it's kind in Europe."
THE new chief executive of Clonmel-headquartered global engineering group Kentz believes Ireland should be able to tap into deep-water oil and gas reserves off its coast if major finds are made in coming years.
Christian Brown, who took over as CEO of Kentz earlier this year from Limerick native Hugh O'Donnell, was speaking to the Irish Independent as the company reported better than expected results for 2011.
Pre-tax profit at the company rose 18pc to $79.4m as revenue climbed 29pc to $1.36bn. Shares in the company jumped over 6pc in morning trading.
Kentz provides engineering services all over the world, primarily to oil, gas and mining industries. Its clients include majors such as Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Rio Tinto. Its order backlog rose to a record $2.4bn at the end of last December, giving it visibility out to 2015. Mr Brown also insisted he is under no pressure from any of Kentz's shareholders to do something with the firm's total reported cash pile of $238m at the end of December. Kentz has made just one acquisition, in South Africa, since it floated in London in 2008.
Kentz chief financial officer Ed Power said some of the cash is currently invested in government bonds but declined to say whether Kentz owned any Irish government bonds.
Mr Brown said opportunities for the development of possible onshore shale oil and offshore oil and gas prospects are exciting and that Kentz would "love" to be involved at some stage.
Much of Ireland's potential reserves of oil and gas are located in extremely deep water off the west coast. That has posed significant technological challenges in the past. However, Mr Brown said Brazil is a useful comparison, where many of its oil and gas reserves, also in deep water, were all but inaccessible 10 years ago but are now being developed.