CAIRN Energy is withdrawing from a licence off Ireland where its hopes of making a big find have not been realised.

The Edinburgh-based company had been conducting exploration work with Ireland’s Providence Resources on a licence containing the Diablo prospect, which had attracted the attention of Total.

However, Providence Resources told investors that following detailed technical assessment the partners in the licence had decided they “could not recommend any further prospect maturation”.

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Total has told the authorities in Ireland that the partners will voluntarily surrender the licence with effect from December 31.

The decision appears to represent a setback for Cairn, which moved in to Ireland in 2013 under plans to develop a portfolio of frontier exploration acreage on the Atlantic Margin.

Ireland was attracting attention from international giants at the time but has yet to live up to the potential some identified.

Last week Serica Energy announced it was quitting Ireland after 12 years to focus on the UK North Sea, in which it sees much better prospects.

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Serica announced its decision the morning after Irish premier Leo Varadkar said the country planned to phase out exploration for oil and gas to help tackle climate change.

Cairn Energy made no comment on the announcement by Providence Resources.It has interests in three licences off Ireland besides FEL 2/14.

Led by chief executive Simon Thomson the company has expanded the range of its exploration interests considerably in recent years, through the addition of interests in countries such as Mexico and Israel.

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Cairn is planning to develop a bumper find it made off Senegal in 2014.