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Natural gas found in Mannar basin

Cairn Lanka has discovered a natural gas field off the coast of Mannar in the Northern Province, the first time that deposits have been found on the island.

President Mahinda Rajapakse was reportedly “elated” at the news, and said,

"With more luck and blessings we hope we can find oil".

Cairn was more cautious in its statement saying,

"Further drilling will be required to establish the commerciality of the discovery".

The discovery comes in the Mannar basin after Sri Lanka sold a block each to Cairn, India and China in 2007. The latter two have yet to commence drilling and are reported to be waiting the outcome of Cairn’s work first.

Cairn Lanka is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cairn India. British-based Cairn Energy, which owns 52% of spin-off Cairn India, has been trying to sell its shares in the company for months, to London-listed mining group Vedanta Resources led by Indian billionaire Anil Agarwal.

Drilling in Mannar first began in 1971 by Russia, who failed to find any commercially viable sources and since abandoned the project. The past decade has seen Norway provide seismic studies into the region which has led to the renewed interest.

See our previous post:

‘Speculation as drilling begins in Mannar’ (Aug 2011)

'Scurried pact for oil off Mannar' (Jul 2008)