NEPTUNE Energy has passed a milestone on a big North Sea field development project, on which it has faced challenges amid the coronavirus crisis.

Private equity-backed Neptune said it has started the subsea construction phase of the development of the 50 million-barrel Seagull field east of Aberdeen.

In May Neptune said first oil from Neptune was likely to be delayed by 12 to 15 months until the fourth quarter of 2022. The company highlighted the impact of the Covid 19 coronavirus pandemic on its supply chain and logistics.

READ MORE: North Sea oil and gas firm eyes bargain acquisitions amid 'market dislocation'

The slump in oil and gas prices triggered by the coronavirus crisis has also made life difficult for firms in the North Sea.

Neptune is developing Seagull with BP and JAPEX. The field will be tied back to the BP-operated ETAP processing facility.

Neptune’s UK Managing Director, Alexandra Thomas, said Seagull is an important project for the company, its partners and the UK.

She added: “We continue to work with our contractors and suppliers, focussing on the safe deployment of people, vessels, and equipment and managing the challenges associated with the impacts of the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic.”

TechnipFMC has started pipelay work on Seagull.

Separately, the shake-up at West of Shetland oil pioneer Hurricane Energy has continued after another director departed from its board.

The company said Alan Parsley had resigned as a non-executive director yesterday.

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

Mr Parsley joined the board in June when he succeeded Roy Kelly as the representative of the Kerogen Capital private equity business, which has a stake in Hurricane. The same month Hurricane Energy’s founder, Robert Trice, resigned as chief executive.

Hurricane stoked excitement about the potential of the West of Shetland area after making finds in an under-explored geological zone.

However, the company has suffered setbacks since starting production from the Lancaster field last year.

READ MORE: Finds that fuelled excitement about West of Shetland may contain much less oil and gas than hoped for

The results of recent technical work suggested Lancaster and another find nearby could be much smaller than first thought. In its annual results announcement this month the company said it had cut the valuation of the Lancaster field by around $240m.

Sector veteran Antony Maris became chief executive the day of the results announcement.