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Scottish oil and gas exploration and production company Cairn Energy has entered a farm-in agreement with Kosmos Energy and Moroccan National Oil (ONHYM) for a 20% non-operated interest in an exploration block offshore of north-west Africa.

The Cap Boujdour block is scheduled for drilling in second half of 2014.

Covering an area of 27,700km² in the Aaiun basin in water depths of 1,000 – 3,000m, the permit is ~50km offshore of Morocco and is covered by a regional 2D grid and 2,000km² 3D seismic surveys.

Three prospects have been identified by Kosmos within the 3D area, with Gargaa, located at ~2,135m water depth, being the largest of these.

Under the terms of the farm-in agreement, Cairn will pay a promoted share of future exploration costs towards a 3D seismic survey, an exploration well planned for 2014 as well as two appraisal wells, all subject to a maximum expenditure cap, if successful.

Using the fifth generation semi-submersible drilling unit Cajun Express, Cairn also commenced drilling operations on the FD-I wildcat exploration well on the F prospect offshore of Morocco.

Located in 1,500m of water about 120km offshore Morocco in the Foum Draa block , the FD-I exploration well has a planned total depth of 5,500m true vertical depth subsea (TVDSS).

Operations are anticipated to take approximately 60 days and upon completion, the rig will move to the Cap Juby location in Morocco to drill an exploration well targeting Middle Jurassic carbonates, subject to necessary approvals.

Cairn partners in the project with ONHYM, San Leon Energy, Serica Energy and Longreach Oil & Gas through its wholly-owned subsidiary Capricorn Exploration and Development.

Cairn Energy chief executive Simon Thomson said the farm-in builds on the company’s existing Atlantic Margin portfolio, where it has a strategic presence across three countries in Morocco, Senegal and Mauritania.

"The new acreage offers transformational exploration potential in a frontier region where Cairn is already well established," Thomson added.

Image: Cairn Energy chief executive Simon Thomson. Photo courtesy of Cairn Energy PLC.