CAIRN Energy has passed an important milestone in its campaign to develop a bumper oil find off Senegal after winning official approval for the development.

The Government of Senegal has granted Edinburgh-based Cairn and partners an Exploitation Authorisation covering the SNE find, which was made in 2014.

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The granting of the award clears the way for the partners in the development to make a Final Investment Decision to proceed with the development of the field. It has been renamed Sangomar.

With the field expected to produce around 100,000 barrels oil daily, Sangomar could provide a huge boost to Cairn’s revenues.

Cairn’s partners in the development include Australian firms Woodside Petroleum and FAR.

Woodside said that first oil from Sangomar is targeted in early 2023. The company took over as operator of the field from Cairn in 2018.

Cairn made no comment yesterday.

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The company moved into Senegal under chief executive Simon Thomson’s plan to combine potentially transformational exploration work in areas in which there has been little drilling, such as Senegal, with lower risk activity in the North Sea.

It has brought two big North Sea fields into production with partners since 2017.

FAR and Woodside are in dispute about the latter’s acquisition of a 35% stake in the acreage containing Sangomar from ConocoPhillips for $350m in 2016.

FAR managing director Cath Norman said the granting of the Exploitation Authorisation was a momentous development for the Sangomar joint venture and the people of Senegal.