NORTH Sea minnow Jersey Oil & Gas has seen its shares more than double after the firm won a licence containing a multi-million barrel field.

The award will give Jersey control of the Buchan field in the Outer Moray Firth which was shut down in 2017, leaving an estimated 80m barrels recoverable oil.

Repsol Sinopec decided it made economic sense to decommission the associated production facilities.

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However, Jersey reckons it can bring the field back on stream within five years, subject to securing the required funding.

The company has won an apparent vote of confidence from Norwegian giant Equinor, which has taken an option to acquire a 50 per cent stake in the acreage concerned.

Jersey said the awards could pave the way to the firm developing a major new production hub in the Greater Buchan Area. This could incorporate the Verbier find Jersey and Equinor made on adjoining acreage.

Welcoming news of the award, Jersey’s chief executive Andrew Benitz said: “This is by far the most significant event for JOG since its inception and we are excited to start work on this new project immediately.”

He said the awards highlighted the role that “nimble” independent oil and gas firms are playing in helping to stoke activity in the North Sea.

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Giants cut investment in the North Sea in the wake of the crude price plunge between 2014 and early 2016.

Jersey is one of a range of independents that decided the downturn created opportunities to generate good returns in the area. The price of North Sea assets fell while the cost of services such as drilling support tumbled.

In January the Oil and Gas Authority said the Greater Buchan licensing round provided an exceptional opportunity for firms to collaborate to help revive an area that contained around 300 million barrels oil equivalent (mmboe) recoverable.

Jersey has been awarded three blocks, subject to the completion of formalities.

The rise in Jersey’s share price yesterday indicated investors share Mr Benitz’s faith in the potential significance of the awards.

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In addition to the Buchan field the acreage won by Jersey contains the undeveloped J2 discovery, which is estimated to contain 20mmboe.

Jersey shot to prominence in October 2017 when it made the Verbier find, which was then estimated to contain up to 130mmboe.

The company drilled the well with Equinor after persuading the Norwegian firm to buy in to the licence concerned.

Equinor said the Verbier find proved there could be significant remaining potential in the mature North Sea.

Shares in Jersey plunged in April after the firm said it was likely to revise estimates of the size of Verbier to the lower end of the initial range of 25mmboe to 130mboe following appraisal drilling.

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However the chance of Verbier being judged to be commercially viable would increase if it could be developed as part of a wider project involving Buchan.

After the Verbier appraisal well results were announced Equinor said the area containing the find remained interesting.

The former Statoil said then it still thought the United Kingdom Continental Shelf had more to offer and would continue to actively hunt for new opportunities in both underexplored and more mature areas.

Jersey developed out of Trap Oil, which built a North Sea portfolio helped by the £30m acquisition of Banchory- based Reach Oil & Gas in 2011 but suffered hefty losses after the crude price plunged.

Jersey shares closed up 140 per cent, 103p, at 176.5p. That left the firm with a market capitalisation of around £40m.

Jersey said first oil from Buchan will be targeted for 2024, subject to funding,

Buchan was in production from 1981 to 2017. The platform used for production was eventually taken to Shetland for decommissioning.