Money owed to Capricorn Energy from its favoured Egyptian operations has increased to $145 million (£114m) as its new management team continues to pursue the sale of oil and gas assets in the North Sea.

The Edinburgh-headquartered company said in a statement yesterday that is has "progressed the potential sales process" of the North Sea business, but provided no further details. The update follows a strategic review implemented earlier this year by new executives installed after a failed merger and shareholder revolt at the company formerly known as Cairn Energy.

Capricorn has said that a $100m special dividend promised to shareholders in the fourth quarter will depended on how much revenue is generated by the Egyptian assets that form the core of its new strategy, as well as factors such as oil and gas prices.

READ MORE: Capricorn pulls the plug on controversial NewMed merger

"The board remains confident of our ability to release that amount and looks to do so at the earliest point in time," chairman Craig van der Laan said in a statement released to coincide with Capricorn's annual general meeting.

In an initial strategy update in April under its new leadership, Capricorn said it had $97m in receivables outstanding from Egypt as of the end of last year. That increased to $145m at the end of May, of which $104m is "overdue".

Capricorn announced in March that it would make 120 UK employees redundant as it focuses its attention on Africa. Its overall headcount is set to fall from 238 to approximately 70 people, including a 75% cull of its UK workforce which will fall to less than 40 people.

The Herald: Capricorn's UK headcount will fall to less than 40 peopleCapricorn's UK headcount will fall to less than 40 people (Image: Capricorn Energy)

All assets outside of Egypt are in the process of being offloaded "in as timely a manner as possible", with the firm having already exited Mauritania.

The North Sea portfolio covers a set of exploration licenses with partner Deltic Energy. The new management team led by chief executive Randy Neely, who has a track record of renegotiating contract terms in Egypt, is steering the company away from "high-risk" exploration activity after Capricorn booked costs of $42.8m on two failed North Sea exploration targets in 2022.

"There has been major progress at Capricorn in the five months since the shareholders of the company overwhelmingly supported the election of a new board in February," Mr van der Laan said.

"The strategy of Capricorn has fundamentally shifted to deliver shareholder value by focusing on our promising Egyptian business, exiting high-risk exploration, returning significant excess cash to shareholders and reducing the excessive legacy cost base."

READ MORE: Scottish oil and gas explorer to slash UK workforce by 75%

Mr Neely said Capricorn has so far cut its general and administrative costs by $35m on an annual basis with "opportunities for further meaningful cost savings being pursued". More details on this will be released when the company publishes its annual results on September 7.

Capricorn was forced in February to ditch a contentious merger deal with Isreal's NewMed Energy amid mounting shareholder pressure led by activist investor Palliser Capital. The showdown triggered the departure of the majority of Capricorn's board of directors, including former chief executive Simon Thomson.

Announced in September of last year, the NewMed deal replaced a proposed transaction with Tullow Oil. Capricorn shareholders had also come out against the Tullow merger.

Capricorn said yesterday that it has secured a new five-rig development drilling programme with its partner in Egypt, with production on track to grow in the second half of the year. Full-year production guidance remains at between 32,000 and 36,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day.

The group further announced that it has appointed Egyptian national Hesham Mekawi as non-executive deputy chairman. Resident in Cairo, Mr Mekawi is long-time former regional president of BP North Africa and will work with Mr Neely to "address the group's priorities in Egypt".