CAIRN Energy has discovered oil offshore Senegal, with both it and joint venture partner ConocoPhillips saying the find had potential as a standalone discovery.

Preliminary analysis from the joint venture’s Fan 1 exploration well indicated the well had hit 29 metres of net oil bearing reservoir in Cretaceous sandstones, with no water found in a gross bearing interval of more than 500 metres.

The well, located about 100 kilometres offshore and in water depths of 1,427 metres, targeted multiple stacked deepwater fans in the Sangomar Deep block.

Cairn Energy chief executive Simon Thomson said the oil discovery was an important event for the joint venture.

“Furthermore, this result materially upgrades the prospectivity of the block with a proven petroleum system and a number of deep fan and shelf prospects established,” he said.

“Work is already underway with the joint venture partners to determine follow up activity which is targeted for 2015 onwards.”

Cairn said further evaluation would be required to calibrate the well with the existing 3D seismic data in order to determine future plans and optimal follow up locations to determine the extent of the discovered resource.

Once operations are completed on the FAN-1 well, the semi-submersible drilling unit Cajun Express will move to complete the second well, SNE-1 where the top hole has been drilled pending re-entry.

ConocoPhillips senior vice president of exploration Larry Archibald said the preliminary results of the well were encouraging.

“We believe the positive result reinforces our global exploration strategy of getting into the right plays early in their life-cycle,” he said.

Cairn has a 40 per cent working interest in three blocks offshore Senegal (Sangomar Deep, Sangomar Offshore and Rusifique), which cover 749,000 hectares, while ConocoPhillips holds 35%, FAR Ltd 15% and Senegalese national oil company Petrosen holding 10%.