Cairn halts its Arctic drilling

City A.M. Reporter
Cairn Energy stopped drilling in Greenland before completing an oil well after Greenpeace protesters delayed work, potentially incurring millions of pounds in extra costs and hitting the explorer’s shares.

The Edinburgh-based group yesterday said the Alpha-1S1 well in Baffin Bay did not reach the depth it was aiming for before it was forced to halt drilling by the ending of the narrow Arctic drilling season.

Activists from environmental group Greenpeace had in August boarded the Stena Don rig which was drilling the well and halted work in the hope of stopping Cairn from reaching its objective before the end of the season.

Shares in Cairn plunged 8.9 per cent to 382.5p in early trading, hitting their lowest level since the end of May and making the company the biggest faller in the benchmark FTSE 100 index.

Cairn’s exploration campaign was the first drilling in a decade in Greenland, which energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said could have reserves of 20bn barrels.

Oil majors including Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Husky Energy are queuing up to drill in the Arctic territory but, invigorated by the BP oil spill, environmentalists have vowed to frustrate them.