Greenpeace campaigners have protested against Cairn's drilling operations in the region [REUTERS/Greenpeace]

A British energy company says it has made its first oil discovery off the coast of Greenland, weeks after environmental activists attempted to stop drilling in the area.

Cairn Energy said on Tuesday it had found two types of oil after drilling in the Baffin Bay Basin, as well as further evidence of gas.

"The presence of both oil and gas confirms an active, working petroleum system in the basin and is extremely encouraging at this very early stage of our exploration campaign," Bill Gammell, the exploration firm's chief executive, said.

The company is said to be spending $400m this year on drilling four wells off Greenland.

Ove Karl Berthelsen, Greenland's minister in charge of mineral resources, said Tuesday's find was "another encouraging result".

But the exploration has angered environmental activists who say drilling for oil could harm the region's fragile ecosystem.

Last month Greenpeace activists managed to temporarily halt Cairn's drilling operations, after four campaigners scaled the Stena Don oil rig.

The company has responded to concerns about the environmental impact of its operations, saying its exploration complies with "some of the strictest regulations in the world" that have been laid down by the government in Greenland.

Source: Agencies