Cairn shareholders back oil explorer’s pay plans

Shareholders in Cairn Energy have overwhelmingly backed its executive pay plans, a year after the Edinburgh-based oil explorer suffered a backlash over bonuses for its chairman, Sir Bill Gammell.

More than 99 per cent of votes cast approved the firm’s remuneration report, but there was a 6 per cent vote against Gammell’s re-election as a director. That compares with more than 10 per cent last year.

A group of protestors from Friends of the Earth Scotland gathered outside yesterday’s annual meeting, held at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh, to highlight concerns over Cairn’s drilling programme off Greenland, where it has failed to make a significant discovery.

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One investor said Cairn’s efforts in the region have delivered “sadness and very little else”, and asked the board whether they were considering adopting new technologies to improve its ability to detect oil.

Mike Watt, the group’s deputy chief executive, said no technology was able to completely remove the element of risk from exploration, “but we continue to look at anything new that’s on the horizon”.

Chief executive Simon Thomson said the firm’s cash balance of $1.5 billion (£983 million) puts it in a strong position to fund its exploration programme, including a possible return to Greenland next year.