A NEW oil-and-gas exploration and production company focused on the North Sea has a war chest of more than £300 million to invest in assets and exploration.

Siccar Point Energy, which is being headed by former Centrica upstream boss Jonathan Roger, has attracted heavyweight financing from private-equity firms Blue Water Energy and Blackstone Energy Partners.

Aberdeen-based Siccar said it is initially seeking to buy a producing asset in the UK Continental Shelf but will also be investing in exploration and new drilling further down the line.

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Mr Roger, who was previously chief operating officer at Venture Production, indicated the business is keen to invest and develop assets rather than try to just extend the life of fields nearing the end of production.

He said: "It is a period during which some of the largest upstream companies are cutting back on capital expenditures and consolidating their global-asset portfolios.

"We are looking at assets where the current owner is, for whatever reason, not investing in the potential of the asset. We are looking at opportunities to invest new capital for new drilling and new exploration, and to build two or three core production hubs in the UK."

Mr Roger confirmed there is no set timescale as to when the business will complete its first deal but there is a possibility something may be agreed before the end of the year.

He said: "There are certain things (that) if they come to fruition could be in the time frame but our investors recognise getting the right deal can take a bit of time.

"It could take us 12 months, it could take us less than that. For us it is finding the right shape of deal. There is no massive rush to get the first deal in the bag - we are going to be patient. Some of the scale of the opportunities we are looking at are quite significant and typically the bigger opportunities take a little bit longer."

But he admitted Siccar is looking actively at a number of possibilities.

He said: "We are working on a range of opportunities at the moment and see a lot of viable acquisition targets in the market.

"We are working our way through some things which are on the market and some which are not on the market."

While Siccar aims to be the operator on its assets initially, Mr Roger said he would not rule out taking minority stakes and getting involved in partnerships in the future.

He said: "Where there is good alignment we would certainly consider being a non-operator."

A core executive and business-development team is in place at Siccar including it subsurface director Iain Bartholomew, Doug Fleming as finance director and general counsel David Sheach.

That trio also worked with Mr Roger at Venture Production and Centrica Energy Upstream.

Mr Roger said: "We have got a number of key individuals in the team and some more coming in over the next month or so."

Blackstone and Blue Water Energy see great investment potential in the North Sea.

Graeme Sword, partner of Blue Water Energy, said: "We have a strong belief that there are continuing opportunities in the North Sea for well-managed companies with a clear strategy and access to capital."

Mustafa Siddiqui, managing director of Blackstone Energy Partners, said: "Blackstone has invested approximately $7 billion of equity in the energy sector over the last decade. The majority of this has been to fund the formation of new companies and capital-expenditure needs of existing high-growth companies led by exceptional, entrepreneurial management teams.

"We are impressed with the capabilities of Jonathan and his team and look forward to partnering with them and Blue Water Energy to build Siccar Point into a leading independent oil and gas company."