HURRICANE Energy has reported encouraging results from work on an oil find west of Shetland, ­highlighting the potential of the area.

The Surrey-based company said an analysis of drilling data by third-party experts indicated the Lancaster find is contained in a good-quality reservoir from which a well could produce oil at 20,000 barrels a day.

The firm, which had backing from BP, said this would be "significantly ahead of initial expectations of well productivity".

Chief executive Robert Trice said the results boosted hopes the find could be brought onstream relatively simply, after drilling one more well.

The results will increase Hurricane's confidence that it has discovered a significant resource in a relatively under-explored area.

Lancaster is estimated to contain 207 million barrels of oil. It lies in an area of hard granite rock found below the sandstone reservoirs that have formed the basis for the majority of North Sea exploration.

Hurricane expects to be able to produce from such basement reservoirs by tapping into natural fractures in the rock through which oil could flow.

Analysts at the company's broker, Cenkos Securities, wrote: "The results are indicative of the vast potential offered by the basement play west of Shetland, particularly at the Lancaster field."

Shares in AIM-listed Hurricane Energy spiked in morning trading but closed unchanged at 41p.

The update from Hurricane will focus renewed attention on the area west of Shetland, where oil and gas firms believe there are significant amounts of oil and gas to be discovered.

BP is spending billions of pounds developing the Clair field and revamping the Schiehallion development, 16 miles from Lancaster.

The oil and gas giant has been mooted as a possible development partner for Lancaster. Developing assets west of Shetland can be very expensive.

However, BP was attacked at the weekend by Jim Sillars, former deputy leader of the SNP. He said BP would face nationalisation in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum on Scottish independence on Thursday, in a day of reckoning with firms seen to have backed a No vote.

BP chief executive Bob Dudley had said the future of North Sea production was best served by Scotland remaining in the UK.

Hurricane made the Lancaster find in 2009. Results of appraisal drilling on Lancaster generated excitement in the City when they were published in June. Hurricane said then the field had flowed at around 10,000 barrels of oil daily, at the upper end of expectations.

Shares in Hurricane Energy traded at 54p in June.

BP provided funding for Hurricane in March last year in exchange for shares in the firm.

It is understood BP has since sold the holding but is considering reinvesting in the stock at the right time.