Cairn Energy

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search
Mining-alcans-60px.jpg This article is part of the Mining and Metals project of Spinwatch
Global warming.jpg This article is part of the Climate project of Spinwatch.

Cairn Energy is an Edinburgh-based oil and gas company with operations in South East Asia, Tunisia and Greenland. In 2011 it was the only oil company drilling in Greenland, with sites in 11 areas, covering approximately 102,000 square kilometres.[1]

In July 2011 the Indian government agreed an $8.5bn acquisition of Cairn's South East Asian wing Cairn India by Vedanta Resources, an Indian mining and metals giant much criticised by human rights and environmental groups. The deal made Vedanta a 58 per cent shareholder of Cairn Energy.[2]Labelled "the largest transaction ever to happen in India", the Cairn-Vedanta deal is now being challenged in the Indian Supreme Court.

Political dealings over Vedanta Cairn deal

Vedanta secured a $8.5 billion takeover of Cairn Energy's subsidiary Cairn India in July 2011. The deal was delayed due to investigations by the Indian government into Vedanta's environmental track record and ability to manage strategically important oilfields, plus disagreements over royalty rates between Vedanta and Rajahstani state owned company ONGC, a 30 per cent shareholder in Cairn's largest producing oilfield which is in Rajahstan.[3][4]

When the Indian government demanded an investigation into Vedanta's controversial track record before agreeing to the Cairn deal, the British government stepped in to urge the deal along and prevent 'unnecessary delays'.[5] In February 2011 the British Prime Minister David Cameron even made a rare personal intervention with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, to hasten a decision and break the deadlock over royalty payments threatening the sale. According to the FT newspaper,

In his letter, Mr Cameron emphasised the importance of the deal to British investment in India. The UK prime minister has appealed to Mr Singh to see that a decision is made on Cairn’s sale of the oilfields to Vedanta as soon as possible.

The UK PM's team told the FT that his 'decision to raise the Cairn deal with his Indian counterpart reflects his determination to bring a sharper commercial edge to British diplomacy in a bid to help overcome bureaucratic hurdles'.

Cameron also highlighted in the same letter the need for greater transparency and predictability in India’s policy environment to enhance trade and investment between the two countries, and several other issues of concern including over the Indian government's pursuit of unpaid capital gains taxes from Vodafone. [6]

For more info on the British government's involvement in the Vedanta-Cairn deal, see here

Cairn under fire from Greenpeace

Cairn has been targeted in a number of high profile stunts by Greenpeace during 2011 in objection to its drilling plans in the fragile environment of Greenland and its failure to make spill prevention plans public.

According to the Guardian newspaper the environmental group boarded the Leiv Eiriksson oil rig en route from Greece to Greenland in late May 2011. Cairn had rented the rig at an estimated rate of $500,000 per day to carry out drilling in Greenland. In response Cairn took out an injunction against Greenpeace preventing them from coming within 500m of the rig.[7] However, Greenpeace activists including Greenpeace International head Kumi Naidoo occupied the rig again off Greenland in June 2011 and were arrested by Danish authorities.[8]

In July 2011 Greenpeace occupied the headquarters of Cairn in Edinburgh, prompting the company to take out another injunction preventing them from posting pictures of the occupation on Twitter or Facebook.[9]


Executive Directors [as of November 2011][10]

Non Executive Directors [10]




50 Lothian Road
Edinburgh EH3 9BY
T:+44 131 475 3000
F:+44 131 475 3030

External resources


  1. Cairn website Operations, Greenland Accessed 3/8/11
  2. Richard Wachman Vedanta given green light for $8.5bn Cairn deal The Observer, Sunday 31 July 2011. Accessed 3/8/11
  3. Richard Wachman Vedanta given green light for $8.5bn Cairn deal The Observer, Sunday 31 July 2011. Accessed 3/8/11
  4. Amy Kazmin, June 30th 2011, Financial Times. 'Delhi approves Vedanta Cairn deal' Accessed 25/7/11
  5. Amy Kazmin, June 30th 2011, Financial Times. 'Delhi approves Vedanta Cairn deal' Accessed 25/7/11
  6. James Lamont and Amy Kazmin in New Delhi, and Alex Barker in London, Cameron intervenes in Cairn sale, February 18 2011
  7. John Vidal, the Guardian, Thursday 2 June 2011 Cairn Energy threatens to fine Greenpeace for Arctic drilling protest Accessed 3/8/11
  8. John Vidal, Adam Vaughan, Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Friday 17 June 2011 Greenpeace head Kumi Naidoo arrested over oil rig protest Accessed 3/8/11
  9. Press Association,, Wednesday 20 July 2011Greenpeace banned from posting occupation photos on Twitter Accessed 3/8/11
  10. 10.0 10.1 'Cairn Energy Board of Directors' accessed 11 November 2011
  11. Cairn Energy website About, Board of Directors Accessed 3/8/11
  12. Cairn Energy website About, Board of Directors Accessed 3/8/11
  13. Cairn Energy website About, Company Advisers Accessed 3/8/11