In its first overseas venture, Cairn India has begun work on an exploration block in the Mannar Basin, off Sri Lanka.

Cairn Lanka Pvt Ltd, a unit of Cairn India, has begun a 3D seismic survey in the Mannar Basin in Sri Lanka, a company statement said here.

The company expects data acquisition, to be done by CGG Veritas AS using the seismic vessel ‘SR/V Viking II’, to be completed by the first quarter of 2010 with data processing scheduled to be completed by mid-2010.

“Drilling, based on the interpreted data and subject to regulatory approvals, is expected to commence in H1 2011,” it said.

Indrajit Banerjee, Director, Cairn Lanka said: “While there are no guarantees of success when exploring a frontier area such as the Mannar Basin, the block is under explored and we are encouraged by the studies we have conducted to date.”

Cairn was awarded the 3000 sq km Block SL-2007-01-001, which lies in water depth of 400 to 1,900 meters, last year.

The company is committed to acquiring 1,450 sq km of 3D seismic data and drilling of three exploratory wells during the phase-I of exploration.

Cairn currently produces about 20,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Barmer district fields in Rajasthan, the most prolific onland oil discovery in India in more than two decades.

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