Cairn Energy in deal to operate Irish fields

Simon Thomson said drilling to start next year in Morocco. Picture: Contributed
Simon Thomson said drilling to start next year in Morocco. Picture: Contributed
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Cairn Energy expanded its Atlantic exploration portfolio yesterday by taking stakes in licences off the west coast of Ireland.

The Edinburgh-based driller will act as operator in the Porcupine Basin, which contains the undeveloped Spanish Point gas condensate and Burren oil discoveries, and six adjacent licensing option blocks.

The acreage covers an area of more than 2,700sq km. 3D seismic data for almost a fifth of that will provide locations for Cairn’s frontier drilling programme.

Chief executive Simon Thomson said: “The addition of this prospective acreage off the west coast of Ireland in the Porcupine Basin brings further exploration and appraisal potential to Cairn’s frontier Atlantic Margin portfolio.

“Our multi-well exploration programme, for which a rig has been secured, will start later this year in Morocco.”

The two active licence areas which Cairn is taking on are currently operated by Chrysaor, with Providence Resources and Sosina Exploration also holding stakes.

Cairn will acquire a 38 per cent working interest and operatorship for $4.1 million (£2.6m) plus an agreement to pay 63.33 per cent of future exploration and appraisal costs for up to two wells, subject to a cap.

Drilling of the first appraisal well on Spanish Point is expected during the first half of next year.

The deal adds to Cairn’s extensive exploration plans for the Atlantic margin in coming years - it already has permits to search for oil off the coasts of Greenland, Morocco and Senegal.