NORTH Sea-focused Deltic Energy has underlined the exploration potential of the area after concluding that three gas prospects on its acreage could contain the equivalent of around 150 million barrels of oil.

The company said technical work completed recently on the prospects indicated they were “clearly material”. All three appear to be big enough to justify the hefty investment that would be required to bring them into production.

The results have increased Deltic’s confidence in its growth prospects amid challenging times for the industry.

The fall in oil and gas prices triggered by the coronavirus crisis has prompted some firms to slash investment in the North Sea.

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However, Deltic chief executive Graham Swindells has made clear that he thinks the long term fundamentals of the oil and gas market remain strong.

He reckons Deltic is reaping rewards for its decision to focus attention on areas whose potential may not have been recognised fully by other firms.

The company increased estimates of the total size of the Cupertino, Richmond and Plymouth prospects in the Southern North Sea after applying modern processing techniques to vintage seismic survey data. It said this work helped it to mature the Cupertino prospect and to identify significant previously unrecognised prospectivity in the area.

“Our technical team continues to produce exceptional work, uncovering more previously unrecognised prospectivity in this underexplored part of the basin,” said Mr Swindells.

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Relatively small independents such as Deltic helped boost exploration interest in the North Sea amid the last downturn.

Formerly known as Cluff Natural Resources, Deltic caused a stir last year when it persuaded Shell to buy into some of its acreage and to fund work on the Pensacola and Selene prospects.

Aim market-listed Deltic has spurned takeover approaches from Reabold Resources and Independent Oil and Gas in recent months.