Significant oil deposits just over six miles off the coast of Dublin may have the potential to provide Ireland's entire oil needs for up to 12 years, according to a new report by Irish oil exploration company Providence Resources.

Providence’s findings suggests that an area just off the coast in the Kish Bank Basin, known to developers as the Dalkey Island exploration prospect, could contain as much as 870 million barrels of oil. It's estimated that Ireland currently consumes 200,000 barrels of oil per day.

If even a third of that figure (up to 300 million barrels) of the potential oil is recoverable, it could be worth up to €18.7 billion ($25 m)

Despite some real excitement about the find, especially in the light of Ireland's current economic woes, Providence is distancing itself from overly optimistic guesswork.

Providence chief executive, Tony O’Reilly explained: “We cannot put potential values on these wells. The reality is that we and our partners are the ones taking the risks and putting up the capital.”

"Until we begin drilling, there is no guarantee that there is anything down there. That said, we are delighted that our analysis of the Kish Bank Basin has revealed the presence of a large untested structure that warrants further investigation.

"The Dalkey Island exploration prospect presents the potential for a large oil accumulation in shallow water off the east coast of Ireland. The partners have agreed on a focused work program aimed at further de-risking this prospect, prior to any drilling program."

The term 'de-risking' means there will need to be further tests to remove any doubts about the viability of the oil find. Drilling costs will total €112 million ($150 m)

Providence and its Malaysian partner Star Energy Group each hold a 50 percent stake in the licensing rights for Kish Bank Basin.

Previous exploration drilling in this field has confirmed the potential for petroleum generation with oil shows seen in a number of wells together with natural hydrocarbon seeps recorded from airborne surveys. “It is early days yet,” added Tony O’Reilly.

"Hopefully we won’t be the only ones doing the drilling. The more drilling the better. That is true for both Providence and for Ireland. There have not been enough wells drilled off the coast of Ireland. We hope this will bring bigger companies to Ireland.”

Providence’s optimism about the find is boosted by the presence of rich oil reservoirs at the same level in the eastern Irish Sea off the coast of nearby Liverpool.