NORTH Sea focused Ithaca Energy has said acquisitions it made in the area powered a big increase in profits last year and recruited a well known oil and gas deal-maker, Alec Carstairs, to its board.

The oil and gas independent made $40.1m (£24.2m) pre-tax profit in the year to December, up 38% on the $29.2m it recorded in the preceding year.

Production increased to an average 10,392 barrels oil equivalent daily, from 4673 boepd in the preceding yeart.

Loading article content

Aberdeen-based Ithaca said this was driven by the $294m acquisition of valiant Petroleum it completed in April.

Chief executive Les Thomas said: "Production, cashflow and reserves were all materially enhanced through the acquisition of Valiant. We continue to look for new North Sea opportunities".

Ithaca said it saved around $20m overheads by closing Valiant's UK office following the acquisition.

The company acquired $500m tax allowances with Valiant.

Ithaca told investors: "No tax is expected to be paid in the mid-term future relating to upstream oil and gas activities as a result of the $1083 million of UK tax losses available to the company."

Directors said Ithaca has already recovered the costs of the $37m acquisition of a 13% stake in the Cook field, from Noble Energy in 2012, through its share of the cashflow generated from the asset.

Ithaca hopes to complete the $385m Greater Stella development at the end of this year. The company expects its share of production to be 16,000 boed.

It expects to produce an average 11,000 to 13,000 boepd in 2014, not including Greater Stella output.

Mr Carstairs, formerly head of UK Oil & Gas Mergers and Acquisitions at giant accountant Ernst & Young, has been appointed a non-executive director of Ithaca Energy.