NORTH Sea-focused Spirit Energy, which employs around 350 in Aberdeen, has highlighted the potential to achieve a big increase in output from a field it expects to be in production long into the future.

The company plans to step up activity in the Greater Babbage area after agreeing to take over operatorship of the asset from Premier Oil.

London-based Premier agreed to sell its interests in Babbage to Verus Petroleum in April in a deal worth up to around £70m. After developing the giant Catcher and Solan finds off Scotland, Premier decided Babbage was not a core asset.

Spirit expects to generate good returns from investing in boosting production from the existing field and exploring nearby. It plans to drill a well on the nearby Python prospect next year.

Chief executive Chris Cox said: “We see significant opportunities to build on the Greater Babbage Area and boost production further from a field which is expected to produce gas for many years.”

Owned by giant utility Centrica and German energy firm Stadtwerke München, Spirit will become operator of Babbage when the deal between Premier and Verus completes. Output from Babbage has averaged 5,600 barrels oil equivalent this year.

Separately, Hurricane Energy has passed another milestone on the road to bringing the giant Lancaster field into production West of Shetland.

The Surrey-based firm said it had finished work on the production wells on the field. It still expects to produce first oil in the first half of 2019.

The Aim-listed company has appointed Morgan Stanley to be joint corporate broker alongside Stifel Nicolaus Europe.