Cairn Energy: Offshore Ireland not a priority

Scottish exploration company Cairn Energy has said it does not view its offshore Irish interests as priority assets, but remains committed to exploring here.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company yesterday reported a loss of $38m (€34m) for the first half of this year; significantly down on the $230m loss for the same time last year.

Uppermost in Cairn’s mind now is the SNE oil well — a world-class discovery it made at the end of 2014 — off the coast of Senegal, which contains an estimated 473m barrels of recoverable oil. Gross oil in place estimates for the prospect are as high as 2.7bn barrels.

Further drilling at Senegal is to commence later this year, while Cairn is also well-placed in the North Sea, with two UK development projects on track to deliver first oil next year.

However, its Irish assets are further down the pecking order.

Cairn is 38% owner and operator at a frontier exploration licence at Spanish Point, off the west coast, where appraisal/exploration drilling has been deferred for some time and is not likely until 2018.

Ultimately, movement there depends on majority shareholder Providence Resources landing a development partner in return for part of its 58% holding — talks on which are ongoing.

Cairn actually increased its Irish portfolio with the award of one licence option in the Porcupine Basin as part of the recent Atlantic Margin Licensing Round.

While an initial work programme is planned — aimed at evaluating the petroleum potential of the area — a spokesperson yesterday gave no indication of timeframe, other than to say that the company is not withdrawing from Ireland.

However, the country is not its main priority at present, they added.


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