A SCOTTISH firm that helps oil and gas firms map conditions beneath the earth has merged with a US business that works on shale gas fields with multi-million backing from the Business Growth Fund.

Aberdeen-based Task Geoscience and Fronterra Integrated Geosciences have combined to create a business they believe has the potential to achieve strong growth amid booming investment in the global oil and gas business.

The enlarged company, Task Fronterra, will be run from Aberdeen by the founder and chief executive of Task, Lawrence Bourke.

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The bank-funded Business Growth Fund has provided £3.8m in support of the deal.

A spokeswoman for the fund said some of the money was used to acquire shares from other investors, without giving details.

She said most of the funding will be used for growth capital to support Task Fronterra's ambitious expansion plans.

Task specialises in obtaining and analysing images from the bores created by drilling beneath the earth or seabed. These can be used to build maps of reservoirs that companies can use to identify the best place to drill further wells.

Mr Bourke described Texas-based Fronterra as the leading presence in analysing shale gas well bores.

Production of shale gas has been booming in the US, where firms have used hydraulic fracturing, dubbed fracking, to help release tightly held desposits from rocks.

The enlarged company has 80 employees, including around 40 in the UK.

The investment is the 13th in Scotland by the Business Growth Fund, which takes minority stakes in firms.

Task Fronterra is the fifth Scottish oil and gas services business backed by the fund since it opened for business in April 2011.