A Malaysian firm has raised its exposure to the North Sea by acquiring acreage containing an undeveloped discovery from United Oil & Gas in a deal worth up to $5 million (£4m).

Hibiscus Petroleum bought controlling interests in two blocks north east of Aberdeen from United, which looks set to book a healthy profit on the deal.

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Led by former Tullow Oil executive Brian Larkin, United was awarded the blocks in the licensing round completed in August.

“The work of our technical team in attaining and developing this licence has delivered an excellent outcome for the Company, allowing us, on completion, to realise a significant return in a very short space of time,“ said Mr Larkin of the transaction with Hibiscus.

The deal provides further evidence that overseas investors see significant potential in the North Sea although US giants have cut their exposure to the area since the crude price plunge earlier in the decade.

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Hibiscus and Ping Petroleum bought the Anasuria cluster in the North Sea in 2015 from Shell and ExxonMobil in a £105m deal.

On its website Hibiscus says the cluster generates cash from production and offers future development opportunities and exploration upside.

In October Hibiscus bought 50% stakes in two fields from Caldera Petroleum for $37.5m.

The blocks it is buying from United contain the Crown discovery made by America’s ConocoPhillips in 1998.

ConocoPhillips sold its North Sea business to private equity-backed Chrysaor Energy for $2.7bn in April.