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Greenland offshore drilling to resume in 2014

October 26, 2012

Cairn Energy Plc, an independent British oil and gas exploration and production company, announced that it would return to drilling for oil in the Arctic waters of Baffin Bay, off Greenland in 2014.

The company has assembled a number of sizable exploration blocks offshore, totaling 102,000 square kms . Cairn spent $1B in 2010-11and drilled eight (unsuccessful) wells in a variety of basins. Cairn is carrying out 3D seismic surveys in north and south Greenland, as well as a geochemical survey in Pitu block.

Cairn Energy’s new drilling programme in Arctic waters, at its Pitu site off Greenland’s coast, is a joint venture with Statoil ASA, Norwegian oil giant. In January Cairn Energy sold a 31 percent stake in the Pitu block to Statoil ASA. A 57 percent stake is owned by the Edinburgh-based company, while the rest is held by Nunaoil, Greenland’s national oil company.

Two rigs used to provide contingency capability for relief well drilling. During 2011, Cairn carried out environmental assessments for both seismic and drilling activities. These were subject to public hearings, involving public disclosure of the report findings, disclosed responses to all public and regulatory comment, and four public meetings.

Cairn is participating in a Shell-operated consortium to drill up to ten shallow stratigraphic cored bore holes in the extreme northern part of Baffin Bay where the entire prospective Mesozoic and Paleozoic section appears to sub crop the seabed.


Cairn is the largest explorer in off-shore Greenland. It has added partners for the 2014 drilling. At a few hundred million per drill hole this is financially smart.

Interesting that the contingency relief plan requires a back-up drilling rig to be available. This was a bone of contention with the oil companies when Canada’s NEB was discussing offshore drilling at its hearings a year ago.