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The Times: Oil explorer that struck water in the desert

September 30, 2006 
WATER is vital to the recovery of oil — it is used to force the black liquid from hard-to-reach parts. Water is also essential to the survival of the 2.5 million people living in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India, the world’s most populous desert.

Cairn Energy, the Scottish mining company, combined its own search for natural resources in the desert with a water supply project that has received plaudits in human rights circles. 
While mining its 7,000 sq km site, Cairn developed an excellent knowledge of the region’s water table, which it passed on to the Indian Government. The information is currently being used to sink wells for local people. The company also donated 600 tanks so that women do not have to carry water as far as before.

Its work in Rajasthan has been a win-win situation for Cairn. In 2004 the company made one of the biggest oil strikes of the year, and the biggest in India for 22 years, at Mangala, a mine that Royal Dutch Shell had given up on a few years before. The billion-barrel find catapulted Cairn from relative obscurity into the FTSE 100 and has seen every other mining giant rush to India.

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