NORTH Sea veteran Bruce Dingwall has said the Trinity Exploration and Production firm he leads enjoyed a transformational year in 2017 when it grew profits 75 per cent helped by the increase in the crude price.

The Trinidad and Tobago-focused business, which runs its corporate development function from Edinburgh, made $11 million (£8m) operating profit compared to $6.3m in the preceding year.

The results reflect the benefit Trinity has enjoyed as a result of the partial recovery in the crude price since late 2016.

Trinity got an average $48.6 per barrel for its oil last year, compared with $39.4/bbl in 2016.

It suffered hefty losses after the crude price plunged from a high of $115/bbl in June 2014, as growth in global supplies ran ahead of demand.

The Aim-listed firm completed a restructuring early last year, which involved raising $15m from investors and reaching an agreement with creditors.

“2017 was a transformational year for the Company, with the restructuring and refinancing undertaken at the beginning of the period and our return to production growth in the second half,” said Mr Dingwall.

The company completed a low cost programme of well revamp work, which allowed it to increase output.

Mr Dingwall said: “The combination of our strong balance sheet and proven ability to grow levels of production ensures that the Company is well placed to realise further value in 2018 and beyond.”

Mr Dingwall played a key role in developing Aberdeen-based Venture Production into a significant North Sea player, which focused on developing assets that were too small to interest majors.

He left Venture in 2004. The business was bought by Centrica for £1.3bn in 2009.

Trinity is following a similar strategy to Venture. Mr Dingwall developed the business out of assets in Trinidad and Tobago acquired from Venture in 2005.

Trinity produced an average 2,641 barrels oil per day in the second half and 2,397 bopd in the first six months. Production averaged 2,542 bopd in 2016.

It increased to 2,811 bopd in January.

Trinity had $0.1m net debt at 31 December, compared with $38m at the preceding year end.

The company is examining a range of options for the sale of its West Coast assets.

Brent crude sold for around $66 per barrel yesterday compared with less than $30/bbl in the first quarter of 2016.