Cairn Embarks on Yearlong Drilling Campaign in Africa, Ireland

Cairn Energy Plc (CNE) will begin a drilling campaign next month targeting more than 4 billion barrels of oil with wells in Morocco, Senegal and Ireland.

The U.K. oil explorer, with net cash of $1.5 billion and a 10 percent stake in Cairn India Ltd. (CAIR) valued at $1 billion, is able to pay for the yearlong campaign from its own funds, the Edinburgh-based company said today in a statement in London. It plans at least five wells in Morocco, Senegal and Ireland, as well as the possibility of one in Greenland, the company said.

“Any one of these wells is potentially game-changing for the company,” Chief Executive Officer Simon Thomson said on a call. “We’ve spent two years building a balanced portfolio and we’re now offering exposure to material growth potential.”

The plans mark a new phase for Cairn after selling most of its Indian unit in 2011 and spending $1 billion in Greenland without a discovery. Cairn has invested in North Sea producing assets and is focusing its exploration on the Atlantic Margin.

It fell 0.4 percent to 275.8 pence by 8:46 a.m. in London.

Cairn also said it’s divesting a stake in the Mariner field and surrounding areas in the North Sea and buying an interest in two licenses close to the Skarfjell discovery.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Swint in London at bswint@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

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