THE EVENING Mail covered when a possible future for Barrow’s oil industry offered exciting new opportunities in 2007.

Furness has welcomed the prospect of a possible future oil rush off Barrow.

The exploration firms Nautical Petroleum and Encore Oil think there could be heavy oil under the sea off Walney and have licences to explore for it.

Industrial development director of Furness Enterprise, Stuart Klosinski said: “We are delighted that drilling could take place.

This follows on from the government awarding a lot more licenses for the Irish Sea in February this year.

“This would further reinforce Barrow’s role as being part of the energy coast.”

He said if oil were found it could be tran-shipped from a rigor piped ashore. It it was gas it would help sustain the life of the Rampside gas terminal.

Operations manager for the port-owners ABP Chris Clouter said: “Potentially it could be a boost for port.

“If an oilfield were developed the port could provide services including land for storing working on and loading up equipment. It would depend on whatever was developed.

“It if meant there was rigs positioned off Walney then potentially there would be the opportunity for support in terms of ongoing supplies.

“We would have to know more about it.”

Bob Pointing, chief executive of the West Lakes Renaissance urban regeneration company, which is working to boost the economy of Furness and West Cumbria, welcomed and potential development.

He said: "I think I can only be good. It would mean jobs and would help the regeneration of the area.

"It is about an addition to our national energy resources, so it is very important both nationally and for the Furness economy. Obviously, we would give it encouragement."

Steve Forbes, full-time area officer for the GMB trade union in Barrow said: "I think it would be good for the economy.

It would add to all the good news we have had at the shipyard. Any more work that comes into the area can only be a good thing."