CAIRN Energy has given the green light to a plan to develop a bumper find it made off Senegal in what has been described as a momentous development for the country.

The Sangomar oil field that Edinburgh-based Cairn plans to bring onstream with partners will be the first to enter production in Senegal.

Cairn will develop the field with Australian oil and gas firms Woodside and FAR.

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The firms signed a Final Investment Decision (FID) to go ahead with the project on Tuesday evening.

The decision to proceed with the development could put Cairn on course for a huge boost to its revenues and help burnish the company’s credentials as an exploration pioneer

The field is expected to produce around 100,000 barrels oil daily. First oil is targeted in early 2023.

The partners in the Sangomar development reckon around 500 million barrels could be produced from the field over its commercial life.

Cairn discovered Sangomar, which was formerly known as SNE, in 2014. The company led work on appraising the discovery.

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The company’s chief executive, Simon Thomson, said the success achieved by the firm off Senegal had opened up a new basin on the Atlantic Margin.

He noted: “Senegal is now an attractive oil and gas province, drawing the attention of the global industry.”

The partners expect the total investment required to take the field to first oil will be around $4 billion.

They won approval for the development from the government of Senegal last week.

Cairn has a 40 per cent interest in Sangomar.

The company won renown for making big finds in India under the leadership of its founder Sir Bill Gammell.

Since taking charge in 2011, Mr Thomson has followed a strategy that involves combining potentially transformational drilling in what are seen as under-explored areas with lower risk activity in the North Sea.

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Woodside’s chief executive Peter Coleman said the company will be working with all stakeholders to ensure that Senegal’s first oil project delivers enduring benefits to its people.

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 of the Sangomar FID: “This is a momentous milestone for the joint venture and the people of Senegal.”