ABERDEEN-based Eland Oil and Gas has seen losses triple after facing security challenges on its licence in Nigeria during what it called a very difficult year.

The Aim-listed company lost $31.4million before tax in the year to 31 December compared with $9.6m in the preceding year.

Revenues fell to $2.4m from $18.1m.

The dramatic drop in income was largely due to the fact the Forcados terminal that Eland used to handle production was shut down in February following sabotage linked to militant activity in the Niger Delta.

The terminal was only reopened last month.

Eland managed to develop an alternative export route that involved shipping crude to market. This only came into operation from January.

In the company’s results announcement Eland said: “The sustained closure of the Forcados terminal from February 2016 has placed working capital pressure on the Group and consequently, as at the date of issue of the Annual Report the Group has net current liabilities of $49.0 million, including cash of $6 million, which will require careful working capital management in the coming months to unwind.”

Eland said its directors have concluded that material uncertainties exist any of which could lead to a liquidity shortfall or the company becoming non-compliant with its loan covenants in the near term.

The accounts were prepared on a going concern basis as directors have a reasonable expectation the group has adequate resources to continue operations for the foreseeable future.

Chief executive George Maxwell said 2016 had been a very difficult year.

However, he noted that after restarting production from the OML 40 licence in January, Eland has been generating cash which has improved its working capital position.

The company thinks it could increase production in Nigeria to around 17,500 barrels oil per day this year, compared with 8,500 bod in January, helped by a relatively low cost programme of revamping existing wells.

Mr Maxwell concluded: “Whilst 2017 will not be without its challenges and availability of capital will dictate the timing and schedule of our investment programme, the opportunity to more than double production once again at limited cost and without any exploration risk is very attractive.”

Eland started production from the Opuama field on OML 40 in 2014.

Opuama had been closed down by Royal Dutch Shell in 2006 amid security concerns.