UPDATES from Independent Oil & Gas and Hurricane Energy have highlighted the role relatively small firms are playing in helping kick start activity in UK waters.

Independent Oil & Gas said an expert study underlined the potential of an undeveloped find on its acreage.

ERC Equipoise found the Goddard find in the Southern North Sea and two structures nearby could contain around 180 billion cubic feet (BCF) gas on a mid case basis in total.

With Goddard estimated to contain 108 BCF, the findings have increased London-based Indendent’s confidence the field is big enough to be worth the investment required to bring it on stream, even without taking the other structures into account.

Chief executive Andrew Hockey said the report left management excited about the prospect of drilling an appraisal well on Goddard.

Independent would expect to be able to develop Goddard relatively cheaply by linking it to the Thames Pipeline. The company acquired the pipeline for a nominal sum last year from three bigger firms, including Centrica, after it had been decommissioned.

It plans to connect other finds to the pipeline.

Goddard was discovered by Arco in 1994.

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

The Surrey-based firm said the production vessel that will be used on the field has left Dubai following the completion of repair and upgrade work and sea trials.

Hurricane said last month it is on track to start production from Lancaster in the first half of next year.

Its success has stoked interest in the relatively under-explored West of Shetland area.

Spirit Energy agreed last month to fund $180m drilling work to appraise Hurricane’s Lincoln find and to assess the Warwick prospect.

The company said the farm in deal provided a great chance to participate in the early phases of one of the last known world-class oil development opportunities in the UK