Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cairn Energy "Smells" Black Gold in Greenland

Barely a week after announcing the proposed sale of a 51% stake in its Indian unit to Vedanta in order to concentrate on its Greenland operations, Cairn Energy claims to have discovered gas in the self-governing Danish protectorate. It is usually a sign that the crude stuff may follow. In a statement, the company said its personnel had observed "early indications of a working hydrocarbon system" off Greenland’s coast at its Baffin Bay T8-1 prospection well. Apart from the T8-1 site, the energy company said plans to drill at least two other wells over the course summer were also on track.

Cairn chief executive Sir Bill Gammell says he is looking forward to assessing results of the remainder of the 2010 drilling programme. So does rest of the market; except for Greenpeace who have promptly dispatched a protest ship to the region.

The company's planned drilling target depth is in the region of 4,000 metres (or above) and energy sector analysts are not yet jumping with joy. Perhaps a knee-jerk reaction to Cairn’s announcement has been tempered by the fact that Scandinavian, British and American teams have all attempted drilling off the coast of Greenland in the past, i.e. in 1970-75 and then again in 2000. Neither of the drives resulted in success.

Still the Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum, which has made developing oil activities one of its most important priorities aimed at creating enough revenues to replace the subsidy the protectorate receives from Denmark, would be hoping Cairn is lucky in striking black gold this time.

Meanwhile, the forward month crude oil futures contract dipped below US$72 a barrel in intraday trading across the pond as the wider commodities market mirrored equties trading; a trend noted over the last six trading sessions. I quite agree with Phil Flynn, analyst at PFG Best, who wrote in an investment note that: "Just when it seems oil is going to rally on strong economic optimism; it gets crushed with the realty of gluttonous supply."

London Brent crude was just about maintaining resistance above US$72 down 89 cents or 1.2% at US$72.55 around 14:45 BST. However, weaker economic data on either side of the Atlantic and fears of a double dip recession, most recently stoked by Bank of England’s MPC member Martin Weale have certainly not helped.

©Gaurav Sharma 2010. Photo: Oil tanker ©Michael S. Quinton/National Geographic Society

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