A North Sea oil firm that hopes to develop a find that has lain idle for decades has set out to raise £5 million from investors as it plans to float on the stock market.

Orcadian is seeking backing for a plan to develop the Pilot heavy oil field around 85 miles east of Aberdeen.

The field was discovered by Fina in 1989 on acreage that a range of firms decided had potential.

Orcadian noted Pilot is estimated to contain around 80 million barrels, on the industry standard proven and probable basis.

However, the challenges associated with producing heavy oil have deterred other firms from developing the find.

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The founders of Orcadian have spent seven years working on a plan to bring it into production. They expect to be able to use modern techniques to achieve high enough recovery rates to make the field viable.

Chief executive Steve Brown said: “We have created a technically mature, feasible development plan for Pilot, based upon the injection of polymerised water right from the start of production.”

Polymerised water contains chemicals that help release oil from rocks.

Orcadian said it plans to seek admission of its shares to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange.

The £5m fund-raising attempt will provide an indication of the strength of investor interest in the exploration and production sector.

Firms have faced challenges raising money amid the downturn triggered by the coronavirus crisis. Calls for oil and gas activity to be curbed on environmental grounds may also have impacted on sentiment.

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Mr Brown said polymer flooding could be used to significantly reduce emissions from viscous oilfields. Orcadian has identified further opportunities to reduce emissions to “remarkably low levels“. It is considering connecting Pilot production facilities to wind turbines nearby.

Orcadian said the estimated cost to achieve first production from the Pilot main and south fields is $1bn. It noted the potential to raise further equity funding and to get other firms to buy in to its acreage, through farm-outs. The company would use the £5m it hopes to raise from City investors to work up plans for Pilot.

Orcadian changed its name from Pharis Energy in April. Its acreage lies south east of Orkney. The company said it may use a terminal in Orkney in future.