Cairn Energy looks offshore for Moroccan oil

BRITISH oil and gas firm Cairn Energy has bought a stake in an exploration well off the coast of Morocco as it continues its hunt for oil and gas in the region.

The firm said yesterday it would pay $60m (£38m) towards the Foum Draa well, in return for a 50 per cent stake in a licence shared with smaller explorers San Leon Energy, Serica Enerft and Longreach Oil and Gas. Drilling in the region is expected to commence in the second half of next year.

The move is part of a portfolio rebalance, which will see Cairn focus more on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Margin and the North Sea rather than its Greenland project, where it has so far failed to find oil reserves.

Cairn yesterday announced a pre-tax loss of $50m for the first six months of the year to 30 June, an improvement on the $141m it lost over the first half of 2011.

It said it expected to finish the year with a cash balance of more than $500m, following various asset sales.