Cairn Energy announces its 2013 strategy

Cairn Energy Rajasthan training facility In 2012, Cairn sold most of its stake in its Indian operations

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Cairn Energy is to focus its drilling efforts in 2013 in the North Sea, and off the Atlantic coast of Morocco.

The Edinburgh-based oil exploration and production firm is to wait until summer 2014 before re-starting its controversial drilling efforts in Greenland waters.

That operation, in the Pitu field, has been strongly criticised by environmentalists.

Cairn has worked there in partnership with Norwegian energy company Statoil.

This year, Cairn should complete analysis of data from other exploration blocks off the west coast of Greenland, and will then seek exploration investment partners.

Last year, Cairn sold most of its stake in the highly successful Indian operations. It still owns around 10%, worth nearly £700m.

According to a trading update issued on Tuesday, sale of the controlling stake to Vedanta had left it with cash balances worth £1bn.

The company is now looking to new prospects in the Mediterranean and the North Sea.

That includes oil fields which are close to starting production, Catcher and Kraken, which will generate cash for further exploration.

Simon Thomson, the chief executive of Cairn Energy, commented: "Our balance sheet strength means we are funded for all planned exploration and development, whilst retaining the flexibility to consider further opportunities.

"This solid foundation, combined with the Company's growing exploration portfolio, provides the basis for multi-year, and multi-well programmes.

"Operated exploration wells, commencing in the second half of 2013, will focus on frontier basins offering transformational potential whilst non-operated exploration drilling activity will focus on the North Sea, where we bring a distinct knowledge edge."

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