HURRICANE Energy has secured £70 million backing from private investors in a development that may boost morale in the hard-pressed North Sea oil and gas industry. Surrey-based Hurricane raised the funding in a placing it said won good support from existing investors and allowed the firm to add blue chip institutions to the share register. The company said recent drilling results underlined the potential of the Lancaster field off Shetland, which directors believe may contain more than 200 million barrels oil. It plans to use the proceeds of the 34p per share placing, which is subject to shareholder approval, to fund production planning work on Lancaster and to hunt for more finds. Exploration activity has slumped in the North Sea amid the crude price plunge.