By Mark Williamson

WHILE champions of the North Sea oil and gas industry will take heart from the recent achievements of Premier Oil its experience highlights the challenges firms can face in one area that has generated huge excitement.

Premier has been rewarded for its decision to carry on investing in the North Sea amid the oil price plunge that prompted many peers to retrench in the area.

The bumper Catcher development east of Aberdeen has been a huge success with Premier recovering its cash outlay 22 months after starting production from the field.

North Sea fields help oil and gas stalwart generate huge amounts of cash

Modern technology used on Catcher combined with the scale of the field is helping Premier limit operating costs to around $12 per barrel. As Brent crude is selling for around $63/bbl plus the firm’s output is very profitable.

With the costs of support services well down on the highs reached during the boom, Catcher may inspire other firms to develop North Sea finds.

Premier has also shown that investing in mature North Sea fields can make good commercial sense.

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But its experience on the relatively under-explored West of Shetland frontier has not been a happy one.

Premier started production from the Solan field in 2016 after facing big challenges. Output has averaged 3,600 barrels daily recently, compared with the 20,000 once expected..