Cairn Energy, the independent oil, gas exploration and production company, has reported a record profit after tax of $4.6 billion for the year ended 31 December, 2011 with a cash balance of $4.7 billion.

The group's vision is to become the exploration company of choice for governments and investors by offering transformational exploration potential within a well balanced exploration and production portfolio. The completion of the transaction with Vedanta crystallises the significant value it has delivered from the Indian business, allowing it to return approximately $4.5 billion to shareholders over the last five years.

Commenting on the results, CEO Simon Thomson said: "Cairn has delivered on its key objectives for 2011: completion of the sale of 40% of Cairn India, the return of $3.5 bn to shareholders and the farm-down of the Pitu block in Greenland to Statoil. With full cycle capabilities and balance sheet strength, Cairn is well positioned to create significant value from transformational exploration, within a well balanced portfolio of exploration and production assets."

Cairn's main exploration focus in 2012 will switch to the Pitu Licence in the Baffin Bay area over which 3D seismic and geochemical seabed sampling surveys were acquired in the summer of 2011. It is also participating in a Shell-operated consortium to drill up to 10 shallow stratigraphic cored bore holes in the extreme northern part of Baffin Bay where the entire prospective Mesozoic and Paleozoic section appears to sub crop the seabed. These cored holes will provide critical information for de-risking the prospects in the Pitu block prior to drilling and for optimising future well design.

The oil and gas exploration group retains 22% investment in Cairn India Limited (CIL) currently valued at $2.9 bn. Rajasthan production from Mangala and Bhagyam fields targeted to reach 175,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) in H1 2012.

Cairn is well positioned to create significant value from transformational exploration and new opportunities in 2012 and beyond.