By Mark Williamson

HURRICANE Energy has received a boost following a difficult period after increasing production from a big field off Shetland.

The company said that output from the Lancaster field West of Shetland has increased to 17,000 barrels oil per day from 15,000 bopd following work to improve the performance of the asset.

Hurricane suspended its production guidance for Lancaster in May after hitting problems with a well on the field. It shut the well in.

The following month its chief executive Robert Trice resigned.

READ MORE: Chief executive of pioneering Shetland oil firm quits as hopes of boom in area fade

Since restarting production earlier this month from the well it had taken offline, Hurricane has increased output from Lancaster by 5,000 barrels per day.

The company had been targeting a plateau production rate of 18,000 bopd from the early production system (EPS) on Lancaster.

The company will use the results of the EPS when deciding whether to sanction the investment required for a bigger full field development of Lancaster.

Its progress will be followed closely in the wider North Sea industry.

Hurricane stoked huge interest in the West of Shetland area by making a series of finds in a relatively under-explored geological layer. It started production from Lancaster last year.

The Spirit Energy oil and gas business owned by power giant Centrica bought into Hurricane’s acreage in 2018.

However, Hurricane has seen its shares plunge in recent months after suffering operational setbacks. The sharp fall in crude prices triggered by the coronavirus has created further challenges.

READ MORE: West of Shetland oil firm highlights 'drastic reduction' in investor interest in sector

Last week Centrica revealed that it had cut the valuation of its exploration and production operation, which includes Spirit, to reflect the drop in commodity prices.

Centrica put its 69% stake in Spirit up for sale last year but paused the process in April. The company said last week the divestment process would restart once commodity and financial markets had settled.

Hurricane said yesterday that it had successfully completed the commissioning of electric submersible pumps on both Lancaster wells.

Shares in the firm closed up 0.42p at 5.9p They sold for 58p in May last year.

Industry veteran Beverley Smth was appointed interim chief executive of Hurricane in May.