Cairn set to move to the Med in its search for energy

Marion Dakers
OIL and gas explorer Cairn Energy is to unveil a new focus on the Middle East when it reports half-year results tomorrow, a source close to the company said yesterday.

Cairn, which earlier this month abandoned one of four wells at its controversial Greenland site, is expected to throw its hat in the ring for at least one of the Mediterranean oil and gas field licensing rounds scheduled in Lebanon, Cyprus and Turkey this year.

The firm is on the look out for new exploration sites after finalising the sale of most of its Indian venture to FTSE 100-listed Vedanta for $6bn (£3.64m). The results of a shareholder vote to approve the Cairn India sale will be announced on 14 September.

Cairn’s Greenland oil fields, a focal point for environmental protestors since drilling started in May, are yet to produce any fuel.

The Lebanese government said earlier this year that it plans to sell offshore licences in 2011, following a successful find by Noble Energy off the coast of neighbouring Israel.

Lebanon claims that the Noble fields are within the country’s waters, but Israel disputes this. The two nations continue to fight about exactly where their maritime borders lie.

Noble estimates that its fields in the Mediterranean contain more than 24 trillion cubic metres of natural gas, and other energy explorers are keen to repeat this success.

Cairn Energy declined to comment yesterday.

The firm is forecast to report an operating profit of $1.2bn when it unveils half-year results tomorrow, though some analysts have warned this could come down once charges linked to the Vedanta deal and work in Greenland are included.