British oil explorer Cairn Energy said it had agreed to extend the deadline for finalising the sale of a stake in its India unit but did not set a new date.

Cairn, giving further details of its exploration programme in Greenland on Thursday, said it had agreed with Vedanta Resources that the closing date of their sale and purchase agreement would be extended in order to secure long-awaited approval from the Indian government.

Cairn agreed in August to sell up to 51 percent of Cairn India for up to $9.6 billion to Vedanta Resources , in a deal which originally had a cut-off date of May 20.

A panel of ministers looking at the transaction is likely to meet on May 27, Indian government sources told Reuters earlier this month.

Cairn, which in 2010 drilled three wells north of the Arctic Circle as part of the first exploration campaign in Greenland for a decade, said it will drill a well on each of its Atammik and Lady Franklin blocks this summer but had not yet finalised the locations.

The company is hoping to open up a new oil province in Greenland, which energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimates could have oil reserves of 20 billion barrels. Shares in FTSE 100-company Cairn closed at 429.9 pence on Wednesday, valuing the company at 5.8 billion pounds ($9.37 billion).

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