NORTH Sea oil and gas industry leaders have welcomed the start of production from a field which was only found in March off Scotland.

Apache announced late on Tuesday that it had brought the Garten oil field onstream well ahead of its original target of first-quarter 2019.

The American independent said it expects Garten will significantly increase its reserves and production in the UK.

“With exposure to strong Brent oil and UK natural gas prices, Garten will be a notable contributor to Apache’s cashflow in 2019” said the head of the firm’s North Sea business Jon Graham.

Oil & Gas UK said the start of production from Garten provided further evidence of the progress firms have made in responding to the challenges posed by the sharp fall in the oil price from 2014 to 2016.

“To have delivered a project from discovery to first oil in just eight months shows the remarkable agility of the UK Continental Shelf as it continues to become more competitive,” said Mike Tholen, upstream policy director at the industry body.

He added: “Apache have shown what can be achieved through a constructive and collaborative relationship with its supply chain.”

The Oil and Gas authority noted Apache had capitalised on advances in technology in areas such as data gathering and analytics to speed the exploration and development process.

Garten has been tied in to the Beryl platform 180 miles north east of Aberdeen. It is estimated to contain around 10 million barrels recoverable reserves and is producing 13,700 barrels oil equivalent daily (boed).

Separately Enquest said it saw potential to make further finds clos to the Kraken oil field East of Shetland which it brought onstream last year with Cairn Energy.

Enquest said it expects production from Kraken to average 30,000 to 35,000 barrels oil equivalent daily from Kraken next year, compared with 31,247 (boed) in the 10 months to October 31.