By Kristy Dorsey

AIM-listed Deltic Energy remains on course with plans to begin drilling in the Pensacola gas prospect in the Southern North Sea in the first half of next year.

The company said yesterday that it and operating partner Shell UK have completed an initial geophysical site survey “on time and without incident”. The results of this initial survey will be interpreted and, if required, a second geotechnical phase incorporating the collection of samples from the seabed will be undertaken before the end of the year.

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“The completion of the site survey on Pensacola is a key part of the well planning process and represents another important milestone as the Deltic-Shell JV continues the preparatory works in advance of drilling,” Deltic chief executive Graham Swindells said. “We look forward to progressing through the planning phase as we get closer to drilling this high impact prospect.”

The companies are hoping to begin drilling in May of next year. Shares in Deltic, formerly known as Cluff Natural Resources, edged slightly lower in yesterday's trading to close at 2.05p.