NORTH Sea minnow Jersey Oil & Gas has seen its shares surge around 15 per cent after the company was awarded acreage containing a significant undeveloped discovery.

The company applied successfully for a licence covering the 14 million barrel Glenn find in a development that could have significant ramifications.

Glenn lies in the Greater Buchan area (GBA) in the Moray Firth. This is a focus of official efforts to maximise recovery of the North Sea’s reserves.

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The Oil and Gas Authority launched a supplementary licensing round covering Greater Buchan in October.

The regulator said then there was much to play for in the area, which contained significant potential recoverable resources. It highlighted the potential to develop finds that had been left idle and to make fresh discoveries in the area.

Led by chief executive Andrew Benitz, Jersey has shown itself to be a big believer in the potential of Greater Buchan.

The success with the Glenn application will provide a fillip to its plans to develop a major new production hub in the area.

The company was awarded three GBA blocks last month containing finds thought to hold around 105m barrels.

Mr Benitz said yesterday: “This additional acreage completes a 100 per cent. success rate of awards across all of the acreage we applied for in the 31st Supplementary Offshore Licensing Round.”

Jersey hit the headlines in 2017 when it made the Verbier find in the Moray Firth with Statoil, which is now known as Equinor.

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Following appraisal drilling Jersey said it was likely to revise estimates of the size of Verbier to the lower end of the initial range of 25m to 130m barrels oil equivalent.

However, Verbier may still prove to be commercially viable. It would be much cheaper to bring the field into production if it could be linked to facilities shared by other fields such as Glenn. This lies in block 21/2a.

Jersey said: “Together with its interest in the Verbier discovery and previous Greater Buchan Area acreage awards, the addition of Block 21/2a to its portfolio provides the company a significant opportunity to operate a major new area development.”

Jersey said its share of the associated potentially recoverable resources could be in excess of 120 million barrels of oil equivalent.

It hopes to start production from the hub in 2024.

The company said it has enough funding in place to complete work on a field development plan.

The progress Jersey has achieved to date highlights the role small firms are playing in support of the effort to make the most of the exploration potential of the North Sea.

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Drilling activity has fallen to a record low in the North Sea amid the fallout from the crude price plunge that started in 2014.

However, Jersey initiated work on Verbier and persuaded Statoil to buy in to the acreage in 2016.

Statoil said then the move underpinned its strategy of exploiting prolific basins.

Other relatively small exploration firms have achieved success against a challenging backdrop in recent years.

Hurricane Energy has been transformed into a company with an £840 million stock market capitalisation after making bumper finds West of Shetland.

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Last year Azinor Catalyst made a find off Shetland with a well drilled with Cairn Energy and Faroe Petroleum.

In July Canaccord Genuity analysts rated North Sea-focused i3 Energy as one of their top sector picks ahead of it starting a three-well drilling campaign in the Moray Firth.

Jersey developed out of Trap Oil. This 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.

Shares in Jersey Oil & gas closed up 26.5p at 204p. That left the firm with a market capitalisation of around £44m.