Cairn agrees deal to operate Irish licences

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Oil and gas explorer Cairn Energy has taken a stake in two licences off the west coast of Ireland as it seeks to expand its presence in the Atlantic.

The Edinburgh-based firm is to take a 38 per cent interest in the licences, which contain the undeveloped Burren and Spanish Point oil and gas discoveries.

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

Along with Cairn, the partners in the licences comprise former operator Chrysaor with a 26 per cent stake, Providence Resources at 32 per cent and Sosina with a 4 per cent interest.

Tony O’Reilly, chief executive of Providence, said: “The arrival of a major independent operator like Cairn, with their deep water experience and their technical and financial strengths, provides further validation of the real potential of the Irish offshore.”