Trap sells Lacewing stake to focus on new exploration

Trap Oil, the Aim-quoted energy group, has sold its stake in the Lacewing oil discovery in the North Sea to focus on further exploration.

The firm sold its 10 per cent interest in Lacewing, acquired when it bought Aberdeenshire-based Reach Oil & Gas in July, to ConocoPhillips for £1 million. Yesterday, finance director David Kemp said its share of the cost of developing the prospect would have taken a large chunk out of the company’s £12m exploration budget for 2012.

“It’s a very expensive well for a small company such as ourselves,” he said. “We think we can get better returns elsewhere.”

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Trap Oil, which focuses on the UK continental shelf, had planned to drill eight prospects in 2012 and Kemp said it would seek to find a new field to replace Lacewing in the programme.

He said Trap would be one of the most active explorers in the UK North Sea this year.

“We think we’ve got a very exciting drilling programme and it will be very important for the company,” Kemp added. “Fingers crossed we will find oil.”

The firm also announced yesterday that it had won two licences in the UK’s recent 26th licensing round. It has a 10 per cent interest in the Niobe oil prospect in the Inner Moray Firth with an option to acquire an additional 20 per cent, and a 50 per cent working interest in the North Kelvin gas block in the southern North Sea.

Some of the work is being paid for by partner companies in exchange for work already done by Trap. The company, which floated in March, also has plans to buy into a producing oil field before the end of the year, funded from its IPO.