After an unsuccessful oil exploration campaign in Greenland, Cairn Energy has now focused on northwest Africa and Ireland

Cairn Energy focuses on oil in Ireland and north-west Africa

An Edinburgh-based oil and gas exploration company will start drilling to assess oil reserves in north-west Africa and Ireland.

The firm has previously invested £700m to find oil in Greenland. Terminating the unsuccessful venture, Cairn Energy believes the chances of the new undertaking are more solid.

Equipped with data from 3D seismic surveys, the company said there is up to 25 per cent probability of finding oil in at least some of the five planned exploration wells.

"The previous campaigns in Greenland were very much reconnaissance campaigns. They had a one in ten chance of success ... so this is a different programme, a different style," said the company’s deputy CEO Mike Watts.

As part of a planned £325m investment in exploration activities, the company will drill two test wells off the coast of Morocco, two off the coast of Senegal and one off the west coast of Ireland in the next 12 months.

"Any one of these wells is potentially game-changing for the company," chief executive Simon Thomson said.

Cairn hopes to secure over four billion barrels of oil equivalent of mean un-risked gross prospective resource.

Work on the first site in Morocco will commence as early as September 2013.

The company, which is also building a production portfolio in the North Sea, said it was involved in a number of asset exchanges there, including selling a 6 per cent position in the Mariner oil field in Britain and acquiring stakes in two Norwegian licences.

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