About us

Our business model

Our business model

Cairn’s business model is to hold assets within the oil and gas life cycle in order to create, add and deliver value for stakeholders. The cash flow from production assets funds exploration, appraisal and development activity, making the business model largely self-funding. Assets can be monetised at different points of the life cycle in order to optimise the portfolio.

Exploration and Appraisal

4-8 years




Exploration activity, including seismic surveying and drilling, can create material value.


2-5 years




Moving exploration success into development, or acquiring development assets, adds value.


10-25 years


Return & reinvest


Progressing development assets into production results in cash flow to reinvest or return to shareholders, realises value.

Our strengths and capabilities

#1 Self-funding business model

Our production assets provide the cash flow to sustain exploration, appraisal and development activity. In 2012 we acquired non-operated interests in two UK North Sea development assets, Kraken and Catcher, to provide future cash flow for the business. Both assets started producing in 2017. As this production continues to deliver over time, we will seek to bring on production from new assets to replace it.

#2 Financial flexibility

Operating a full cycle exploration, development and production business gives us financial flexibility to deliver our strategic objectives, year on year. We maintain a strong funding position through cash flow from our production assets and a largely undrawn debt facility. This allows us to actively assess new venture opportunities and deliver immediate activity. We also apply strict capital discipline to our investment decisions and actively manage our portfolio to optimise capital allocation.

#3 Frontier exploration positions

Our exploration activity is principally in frontier and emerging basins where the greatest potential value exists. Our frontier exploration position in Senegal, acquired in 2013, has yielded material exploration success and we continue to feed our pipeline of exploration assets, acquiring exploration acreage in a number of new countries during 2018 and 2019.

#4 Skills, experience and collective expertise of our workforce

Our employees, contractors and suppliers provide the necessary expertise and resources to deliver our work programmes. We ensure they have the right training, tools and knowledge in order to help us to deliver our strategy safely. Contractors and suppliers are required to work to the same high standards as our employees.

#5 Responsibility focused culture

Cairn has an established, highly experienced and respected leadership team which is committed to working responsibly in delivering company strategy. We never compromise our operating standards. Our focus on delivering value in a safe, secure and environmentally and socially responsible manner is one of our strategic objectives and is measured through our company Key Performance Indicators.

What Cairn offers

Our responsible approach

Our approach is governed by our commitment to working responsibly across all our activities. This means working in a safe, secure, environmentally and socially responsible manner.

This culture of working responsibly is embedded throughout our business in our management systems and is enshrined in our policies and principles. We operate to international, leading industry standards in health, safety and environmental management and we never compromise our standards. We look for partners who share the same fundamental commitment to international good practice, ensuring projects are managed in a responsible and respectful manner.

Our experience

Cairn has over 30 years’ experience as an operator and partner at all stages of the oil and gas life cycle and has successfully discovered and developed oil and gas reserves in a number of international locations in partnership with host governments. 

We have a track record of safe and effective operations and extensive experience operating both onshore and offshore, in shallow and deep water locations, in remote and frontier locations and in benign and harsh weather environments. Our industry experience has included opening new oil basins and creating value through exploration success and commercialising resources across South Asia and most recently in West Africa.

Our expertise and agility

We pride ourselves on seeing value where others might not and on being the right size of organisation to move quickly and responsibly to pursue this value.

Cairn created transformational growth and significant value through the discovery in 2004, and subsequent development and production, of hydrocarbons in Rajasthan, India. More recently Cairn drilled the first ever deepwater wells offshore Senegal which resulted in two basin opening discoveries, one of which was the largest global oil discovery of 2014.

Creating value responsibility

We are committed to making a positive contribution, wherever we operate, by delivering tangible benefits to our stakeholders. This includes the value distributed through salaries, taxes, payments to authorities, contractors and suppliers, capital spending and social investment.

Oil and gas sales revenue


Capital expenditure


Employee salaries and benefits


Payments to governments


Social investment



* Net of US$27m tax refund and US$21m Nova working capital reimbursement