SERICA Energy has announced a deal to buy stakes in two producing North Sea fields from Total for an initial outlay of just $5 million (£3.8m) sending its shares surging.

The London-based firm will add around 11 million barrels to its reserves by acquiring interests in the Bruce and Keith fields 200 miles north east of Aberdeen from the French giant.

Led by executive chairman Tony Craven Walker, Serica is in the process of acquiring interests in Bruce and Keith from BP in a deal worth up to £52m deal agreed in November, which has hit complications.

The BP deal also included a stake in the Rhum field. This is part owned by the Iranian oil company.

Serica and BP are lobbying US officials in the hope of ensuring Rhum does not get caught up in the sanctions President Trump is imposing on Iran.

“As the BKR Assets make a significant and important contribution to UK offshore gas production we are seeking to ensure that an appropriate Licence will be granted and are working closely with all parties to this end," said Serica’s chief executive Mitch Flegg.

He said the deal with Total would move Serica closer towards its objective of being a highly efficient, profitable mid-tier operator focused on the UK North Sea.

The company believes there is plenty of potential for further growth in the area, amid moves by some big firms to offload mature NorthSea assets to free up funds to invest in what they see as better growth prospects.

Serica expects to generate good returns from investing in projects that could be too small to interest a major, in the process helping to achieve the government’s aim of maximising recovery from the North Sea.

A spokesperson for Total said: “Bruce and Keith are non-core assets in Total’s North Sea portfolio. Serica offer these assets a potentially longer life and new investment which will add value.”

Total has held stakes in Bruce and Keith since the fields went into production, in 1993 and 2000 respectively.

Serica will pay an initial $5m, with a further $15m payable in the two years after completion of the deal. Total will get a share of the profits made on production from the fields.

Ashley Kelty, oil and gas analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald Europe, said the acquisition appeared to provide a very cheap means to bolster Serica’s asset position. Serica could use cash generated from the fields’ production to fund development work on other assets.

He added: “We see any concerns over the US sanctions impacting the BKR deal as unwarranted, given the strategic importance of Rhum (it produces 5% of entire UK gas), and historic precedent for producing the field under previous sanction regimes.”

The completion of the deal with Total is subject to regulatory consents and completion of the transaction with BP.

Serica will hold 78.25% and 59.83% of Bruce and Keith respectively if both deals complete.

Shares in Aim-listed Serica closed up 13.7p, 19.5%, at 84p.