OIL and gas giant Equinor has highlighted the significance of its UK asset base after growing annual profits by 40 per cent.

The Norwegian company, which changed its name from Statoil last year, achieved $18 billion (£13.8bn) underlying earnings in 2018, compared with $12.6bn in the preceding year.

Chief executive Eldar Sætre said Equinor had delivered record production in 2018 and was well positioned for profitable growth in the coming years.

“We have a strong and highly profitable portfolio of projects coming on stream towards 2025,” he said.

In a presentation to analysts, Equinor included the 320 million barrel Mariner field East of Shetland in a list of major projects that are expected to come onstream this year.

Read more: West of Shetland deal provides big boost for oil and gas industry

The company also provided a further sign of its faith in the potential of the giant undeveloped Rosebank field West of Shetland after buying Chevron’s 40% stake in October.

Chevron shelved plans to develop Rosebank in 2013 months before the oil price plunged. In yesterday’s capital markets update, Equinor described Rosebank as a large high-value project with a defined business case that was expected to come onstream in the next 10 years.

Underlining its faith in the potential to make big finds in the UK North Sea, Equinor noted that it acquired nine exploration licences in the latest round.

Equinor has said it expects to complete a three well campaign in UK waters this year, which will be followed closely in the industry.

Read more: North Sea firms underline potential of discovery in Moray Firth

This will include drilling on the Big Foot and Pip prospects with BP and appraisal work on the Verbier find it made in 2017 with Jersey Oil & Gas.

Equinor described three wind farm projects in UK waters as quality assets that will help the company build a new energy portfolio. These include the Hywind floating windfarm off Peterhead. The company said there are attractive opportunities in the North Sea in the sector.

Its giant rivals BP and Shell said this week that they saw growth opportunities in the North Sea. Both sold off North Sea assets and shed jobs in response to the sharp fall in the oil price between summer 2014 and the first quarter of 2016.

Read more: BP expects production at giant Shetland oil field to last for decades

BP increased annual profits by 105% last year, to $12.7bn from $6.2bn. Shell grew profits by 36% to a four-year high of $21.4 bn in 2018, from $15.8bn.

Equinor produced 2.17m barrels oil equivalent per day in the fourth quarter, against 2.13m in the same period of 2017.

The firm’s UK upsteam business is led by Hedda Felin. Equinor employs 275 people in Aberdeen and has 1500 supporting the Mariner project offshore.

Equinor expects to bring the giant Johan Sverdrup field onsteam in the Norwegian North Sea in November following a long development process.