CAIRN Energy chief executive Simon Thomson has emphasised the company could make significant payouts to shareholders if it wins a long-running tax dispute in India that is nearing a conclusion.
The Edinburgh-based oil and gas firm has more than $1bn at stake on the outcome of the dispute, which will be considered by an independent tribunal in August.

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Speaking after Cairn’s general meeting yesterday Mr Thomson noted Cairn has funding in place to support an ambitious exploration and development programme stretching from the North Sea to southern America.
None of the work planned is conditional on winning the Indian tax case.
He confirmed Cairn will consider returning at least some of the proceeds of any victory to shareholders noting the company has a track record of rewarding investors.
While Mr Thomson would not say how much the company could pay out, he noted: ”What I would say is that in the event there is a return I would hope that would be significant.”
Shares in Cairn rose around three per cent yesterday following a bullish update in which the firm underlined its continued interest in the North Sea as it makes progress further afield.
Cairn is preparing to submit plans to develop the giant SNE find off Senegal to the authorities. It reckons production from the field could plateau at 100,000 barrels of oil daily, with first output from 2021 to 2023.

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Mr Thomson noted the development would break even with crude trading at $30 per barrel, compared with around $78/bbl yesterday. He said Cairn could sell down part of its holding in SNE at some point but has no need to currently. It expects to remain in Senegal for some time.
Cairn is preparing to drill four wells off Mexico where the company hopes to repeat the success it has enjoyed in Senegal and India.
Mr Thomson noted it also plans to complete an extensive exploration drilling campaign off the UK and Norway over 2018 and 2019, targeting prospects that could contain a billion barrels plus in total.
Cairn is generating plenty of cash from the fields it brought into production in the North Sea last year with partners.
The Kraken field East of Shetland and Catcher off Aberdeen are ramping up to achieve full capacity production by the middle of the year, said Mr Thomson.Cairn’s share of the output will be worth an average 17,000 to 20,000 barrels daily this year.

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The company is about to submit a plan to develop the Nova field in Norwegian waters.
Cairn acquired its interests in the North Sea under the strategy developed by Mr Thomson after he succeeded the company’s founder, Sir Bill Gammell, as chief executive in 2011.
This combines relatively low risk activity in the North Sea with exploration work in what are classed as frontier areas.
Mr Thomson noted: “We are also evaluating and actively examining further exploration activities to extend our portfolio, including Ireland and now Suriname, where we have been awarded a large, operated exploration block.”
On the Indian tax dispute Cairn said: “International arbitration proceedings are well advanced with the final hearing of our claim under the UK-India Bilateral Investment Treaty scheduled for August in The Hague with an outcome expected in Q4 2018.” Cairn is confident in its position.
The company has been prevented from selling its remaining stake in former subsidiary Cairn India pending resolution of the dispute, which started in 2014.
The stake was valued at $1.1bn at 31 December.
Shares in Cairn closed up 7.2p at 247.6p.