LOSSES widened at North Sea-focused Independent Oil & Gas last year although the company said it achieved significant growth in its portfolio at modest cost.

Aim-listed Independent Oil & Gas lost £1,031,084 in the 12 months to December compared with £446,419 in the preceding year.

The increase in losses was partly due to £240,000 costs related to the company's listing on the Aim market in September, when it raised £2 million from investors.

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The company made £360,000 non-cash provisions in respect of share option awards. However, ongoing administrative costs fell to £290,000 from £390,000.

Chief executive Mark Routh, who developed CH4 Energy into a successful North Sea business, noted Independent Oil & Gas expanded its portfolio after being awarded a new licence near the exisiting Blythe asset off the east coast of England.

The company also agreed to acquire the licence containing the Cronx gas find near Blythe for an initial £468,000.

Mr Routh said the company's board believed its assets are worth more than the company's share price implied. "The directors intend to explore all forms of potential fundraising including at asset level," he said.

Shares in Independent Oil & Gas closed down 1p at 25p giving it a market capitalisation of around £15m.

On Thursday the company said it faced delays on the Skipper project East of Shetland, which highlighted the pressure on rigs in UK waters.

The company has delayed drilling an appraisal well on the Skipper prospect off Shetland from this summer until next year.