Company Report

Cairn Energy oil and gas exploration summary



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Report summary

Cairn Energy's strategy is to create value through an exploration-led investment cycle. It aims to commercialise and return this value to shareholders rather than necessarily follow long-term development-led growth. A decade ago, with cashflow from South Asia, this approach led to spectacular success in India and top-quartile value creation. Replicating this business model of discover, and develop with the potential to dispose, has been a challenge. Exploration in Greenland did not produce any commercial success. However the company has worked hard to develop a more balanced, self-funding portfolio across the asset lifecycle. It has been substantially rewarded with key discoveries in Norway (Skarfjell) and most notably Senegal (SNE and FAN), which contributed to the company adding 360 million boe of new resource over 2007 to 2016. Cairn has an active ongoing programme of appraisal and development work in Senegal which has seen it return to creating positive value from exploration.

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    Cairn Energy oil and gas exploration summary

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Table of contents

    • Basins drilled and all conventional & organic unconventional discoveries 2007-2016
  • Investment and costs
    • Well data
    • Scope of this report
    • Production from new field discoveries and organic unconventionals, and as a proportion of all future production
    • Move into Greenland did not add new resource
    • Balancing frontier wildcatting with lower-risk mature basin exploration has proved successful
    • Frotier wildcatting in Senegal ushers in new era of exploration success

Tables and charts

This report includes 23 images and tables including:


  • Full-cycle economics
  • Ten year performance summary
  • SWOT Grid
  • Gross exploration & appraisal wells by basin and sector
  • Discoveries (2007 to 2016)


  • Exploration & appraisal spend and reinvestment*
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by water depth
  • Exploration & appraisal spend by basin maturity
  • Discovery costs by water depth
  • Executive summary: Image 1
  • Net active exploration acreage by water depth
  • Net active exploration acreage by country*
  • Exploration wells drilled and spend per well
  • Exploration success rates
  • Volumes discovered by year
  • Volumes discovered by water depth
  • Volumes discovered by country
  • Volumes discovered by basin
  • Production: Image 1
  • Full cycle value creation by year
  • Exploration returns by year
  • Costs and development value by reserve category
  • Exploration returns by water depth

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