CAIRN Energy has enjoyed an exploration success off Mexico after moving to reduce its exposure to the North Sea.

The Edinburgh-based oil and gas company has made a find with Eni on a licence the firms are partners in.

The discovery was announced by Eni, which indicated it could be significant.

The Italian giant said preliminary estimates suggest the Sayulita find may contain up to 200 million barrels oil equivalent.

Cairn noted the announcement without making any further comment.

The result underlines the potential of a licence on which Eni and Cairn have already enjoyed success.

READ MORE: ScotWind auction heats up as Italian oil giant Eni plans bid for windfarm acreage

The well was drilled on Block 10. This contains the Saasken find made in February last year.

Eni said yesterday: “The successful result, that comes after the 2020 discovery well Saasken 1 EXP, confirm the value of the asset and open the potential commercial outcome of Block 10 since several other prospects located nearby may be clustered in a synergic development.”

Cairn has a 15% interest in the block in the Southern Gulf of Mexico, with Eni on 65%. Lukoil of Russia has 20%.

Cairn moved into Mexico in 2017 under chief executive Simon Thomson’s plan for the company to combine potentially transformational exploration in areas in which there has been relatively little drilling with lower risk activity in areas such as the North Sea.

The first well it drilled off Mexico was dry.

READ MORE: Cairn in $460m North Sea disposal

Mexico is rich in oil and gas but the country's waters have seen little activity by international standards.

State-owned Pemex long dominated activity. The country’s government opened the market up to international players in the hope of maximising the potential of its resources. Mexico completed its first licensing round in 2016.

Cairn made a bumper find off Senegal in 2014 under Mr Thomson’s leadership. The company sold its business in Senegal to Australia’s Woodside for up to $400m last year.

In March Cairn struck a $460 million (£330m) deal to sell interests in producing North Sea oil fields to Waldorf Production and bought a stake in a big portfolio in Egypt from Shell for $320m.

READ MORE: Edinburgh oil firm faces fresh complication in $1.2bn Indian tax dispute

In December Cairn was awarded $1.2 billion damages plus interest by an international tribunal after winning a long-running legal dispute with the Indian government but has yet to receive any of the money.

Cairn Energy shares closed up 1.5p at 129.2p.