CLUFF Natural Resources has said it sees significant value in the North Sea after winning licences that will result in a big increase in its footprint in the area.

The company, which was founded by North Sea pioneer Algy Cluff, won six licences in the latest round after mounting a push for expansion which underlined its faith in the exploration potential of the area.

London-based Cluff Natural Resources said its board views the blocks concerned as highly prospective with many containing undeveloped discoveries and exploration upside.

The licences include two in the Central North Sea off Scotland and four in the gas-rich Southern North Sea.

Cluff Natural Resources noted it was one of the most successful applicants in the UK’s 30th Offshore Licencing Round.

“The extent of the awards further establishes our position as a natural resources investing company and underlines our commitment to the UK and to the North Sea where we see significant value,” it said.

The firm refocused on the North Sea after shelving plans to generate gas by burning coal held under the Firth of Forth, which ran into official opposition.

A former Grenadier Guards officer, Mr Cluff started the business that made the giant Buchan find off Scotland in 1975. He went on to run firms that made gold discoveries in Africa before founding Cluff Natural Resources.

In February Mr Cluff announced he planned to step down as chief executive of the firm to become chairman, to give him time to spend on other interests. These include a new charity that will care for the graves of members of the British armed forces that lie in other countries.

Graham Swindells succeeded him as chief executive.