Bridge Energy hunt for deals after North Sea delays

Bridge Energy, the Aberdeen-based oil and gas explorer, today said it was seeking acquisitions to boost its growth after production fell more than a third due to issues with one of its North Sea fields.

Duart field timetable has been pushed back into next year because of ongoing maintenance work. Picture: Hamish Campbell

Bridge, which is listed on Aim and in Oslo, said average production during the three months to 30 June fell after delays in restarting production from its Duart field.

The group had been hoping to recommence production from the field by October, but its timetable had been pushed back into next year because of ongoing maintenance work on the Tartan platform.

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The delay led to production during the quarter falling to 947 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from 1,451 barrels a year earlier.

In the meantime, Bridge is pinning its hopes on the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, where it is drilling more wells to target the Asha East and Amol prospects.

Chief executive Tom Reynolds said: “This is a high-potential licence and we hope the recent spud of two further exploration wells targeting separate prospects will enhance value in this acreage. Our exciting portfolio of exploration prospects supported by cashflow from production and our disciplined approach to cost and capital management put us in a good position to pursue additional growth opportunities.”

Fellow North Sea producer Premier Oil today reported a 10 per cent rise in first-half profits and said it was poised for further growth as output from the Huntington field ramps up.

Oil began flowing from Huntington in April and initial production suffered amid technical problems, but Premier said these issues had been fixed, with production reaching around 27,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

However, recent weeks saw production halted during periods of calm weather because gas was being detected at deck level. This problem is expected to be resolved by the end of this month.

Depending on the performance of the Huntington field, Premier is targeting full-year production of 63,000 barrels a day – up from 58,600 in the first half – following what chief executive Simon Lockett described as “one of our most successful periods of exploration, with six discoveries from seven wells”.

Production from its UK interests edged down to 13,400 barrels from 13,600 last year.

Pre-tax profits at the firm – which is also active in Africa, Asia, the Falklands and Norway – rose to $214.6 million (£137.6m) for the six months to 30 June, up from $194.6m a year earlier.

Lockett added: “Despite rising costs and challenging execution timetables across the industry, we see high returns on capital and strong cash flow growth as we deliver on these valuable projects.”

He predicted that “much more is to come” from the company from its development pipeline, which will “transform our cash flows and financial position”.

Shares in Bridge Energy closed unchanged at 116p, while Premier’s stock finished down 10.5p at 346.5p.