Cairn Energy unveils nine-well expansion programme for 2014

 
Suzie Neuwirth
-RIC

-RICH oil explorer Cairn Energy yesterday said it plans to drill nine new wells this year, while its programme to buy back up to $300m (£182.2m) in shares is still ongoing.

“Cairn plans to drill nine wells in its 2014 exploration programme across an attractive mix of frontier and mature basins,” said chief executive Simon Thomson.

“The exploration programme will provide investors with exposure to material growth potential alongside mature basin development and pre-development assets, all against a backdrop of continued balance sheet strength.”

The FTSE 250-listed firm, which reported net cash of $1.25bn at the end of 2013, is planning to drill one well off the coast of Morocco, two wells off Senegal and one offshore west of Ireland.

Planning is underway for another exploration well off Morocco, with partners Kosmos Energy, who will operate the well, and the Moroccan National Oil Company.

It also plans to drill four new wells in the North Sea. It has received UK government approval to develop the Kraken oil field, with first oil expected in the second half of 2016 or the first half of 2017.

Cairn returned $3.5bn to investors in 2012 via a share buyback, after selling 40 per cent of its Indian operations. Yesterday it said it has bought back $42m of shares as part of its ongoing plan to purchase up to $300m of shares in the group.

Shares closed down 1.2 per cent.