Cairn Energy optimistic about Greenland drilling prospects

Cairn Energy says it is convinced it will find oil and gas in the Arctic waters off Greenland’s western coast, even though it not found any commercial deposits to date.

The Scottish exploration company is planning to drill four exploratory wells this summer in Davis Strait and Baffin Bay, both off the west coast of Greenland, but it has already abandoned one of its wells after finding it was dry.

David Nisbet, Cairn Energy’s head of group corporate affairs, said the company still plans to drill the three other wells this summer.

“We believe somebody will find hydrocarbons [in] offshore Greenland. We obviously hope it is in our drilling campaign,” Nisbet told CBC News.

“At the very beginning, we said we would aim to spend roughly about a billion dollars, and then to drill as many wells as we could with that.”

Cairn Energy has moved its exploration rigs north in Baffin Bay, where it will drill two more wells before moving back south to drill another well this fall.

The company found some oil or gas resources beneath the seafloor last summer, but it was not enough to constitute a commercial discovery.

Investors uneasy

While Cairn Energy is staying optimistic, the company’s stock price dropped dramatically in the past week.

Nathan Piper, an energy analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said investors are hesitant to get involved during uncertain economic times in ventures such as Cairn Energy and Tullow Oil, a British exploration company.

“Whether it’s Cairn or Tullow, or indeed any of the stocks within our universe — including some of the ones on the TSX — investors are leaving those stocks and going to more solid names,” he said.

Piper added that Cairn Energy is under pressure to succeed, since it has committed a lot of money in its Greenland venture.

Nisbet said the company is still convinced there are major deposits to be found off Greenland’s coast.

“We continue to be optimistic about the opportunities that are there in Greenland, but we’re fully aware that it is exploration, it is frontier exploration, and with that comes different expectations,” he said.

Originally posted August 12, 2011

CBC News

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