Cairn Energy

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Cairn Energy PLC
Public limited company
Traded as LSECNE
Industry Oil and gas
Founded 1981
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland
Key people
Iain Tyler (Chairman)
Simon Thomson (CEO)
Products Petroleum, natural gas and other petrochemicals
Revenue $ 0 million (2015)[1]
$(178.7) million (2015)[1]
$(515.5) million (2015)[1]

Cairn Energy PLC is one of Europe's leading independent oil and gas exploration and development companies and is listed on the London Stock Exchange. Cairn has discovered and developed oil and gas reserves in a variety of locations around the world.


Cairn's business operations are now focused on frontier exploration acreage in North West Europe, North West Africa, North Atlantic and Mediterranean, underpinned by interests in development assets in the North Sea. Cairn has its headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland supported by operational offices in London, Norway and Senegal.


The company was founded in 1981 by Sir Bill Gammell, the former international Rugby player, his father James (Jimmy), his brother Pete and others. Its initial operations were in the USA and, following its listing on the London Stock Exchange in 1988, it expanded into the UK North Sea and internationally (Papua New Guinea, Spain, Vietnam, China and Australia). Cairn acquired Conoco's UK onshore acreage in 1988 and became one of the largest operators of UK onshore oil production with the Palmers Wood oil field just south of London, near Junction 6 of the M25,[2] Humbly Grove (near Basingstoke) and others.

Cairn's expansion started with a substantial (non-operated) gas discovery (East Cameron 331) in the Gulf of Mexico in 1993 followed by another large gas discovery at Sangu, offshore Bangladesh near Chittagong, in 1996.[3] In parallel, Cairn launched a series of takeovers of public listed companies – Teredo Petroleum in 1994,[4] Holland Sea Search NV in 1995[5] and Command Petroleum in 1996.[6]

In 1996, Cairn farmed out a 25% interest in the Sangu field to Halliburton in return for Halliburton bearing a 50% share of the development costs.[7] In 1997, it sold half of all its Bangladeshi interests to Royal Dutch Shell in return for Shell assuming a $330 million carry of Cairn's exploration and development costs.[8] This agreement gave Cairn an interest in Shell's huge acreage position in Rajasthan onshore in North West India. Cairn drilled two unsuccessful exploration wells and Shell then sold its 50% share to Cairn for $7.5 million: Cairn's third well, now 100% owned, found the Mangala oil field.[9]

Cairn Energy offices in Lothian Road, Edinburgh

In December 2010, Cairn agreed to sell a stake of 58.5% of Cairn India, its India-focused subsidiary, to Vedanta Resources for $8.67 billion.[10] Talks between the two companies started in August 2010.[11] However, approval did not come from the Indian government until September 2011 and the deal had to be restructured.[12]

The company sold an additional 3.5 per cent of its shares in its Cairn India for about USD 360 million in June 2012.[13]

In March 2014, the company announced that Bill Gammell would step down as chairman after the annual general meeting on 15 May 2014.[14]


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2015" (PDF). Cairn Energy plc. Retrieved 29 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Onshore Oil and Gas Discoveries 1983–2000 National Archives
  3. ^ Conclusion of successful Sangu drilling programme PR Newswire, 1996
  4. ^ Michael Seymour: Biography
  5. ^ Presentation to The Scottish Oil Club by Dr. Mike Watts of Cairn Energy titled "Building a Business in South Asia" Scottish Oil Club, November 2004
  6. ^ Oilex seeks a passage to India Daily Mail, 21 August 2006
  7. ^ Alliance to produce gas off Bangladesh Oil & Gas Journal, 5 August 1996
  8. ^ Shell joins Cairn Energy in natural gas projects in Bangladesh, India Journal Record, 1 May 1997
  9. ^ Cairn's oil find in Mangala to reduce India's import bill Financial Express, 14 November 2008
  10. ^ "Vedanta Shareholders approve deal with Cairn - Economic Times". Indiatimes. New Delhi. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Vedanta agrees to buy Cairn India stake". Upstream Online. NHST Media Group. 16 August 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  12. ^ Lamont, James (14 September 2011). "Cairn progresses in sale of $6.5bn stake -". Financial Times. New Delhi. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Cairn Energy sells 3.5% India arm stake". 29 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Sir Bill Gammell stepping down from Cairn Energy". Oil Patch Asia. Retrieved 5 March 2014. 

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