ABERDEEN-based Eland Oil & Gas remains upbeat about its prospects in Nigeria in spite of suffering a fresh setback in the country.

Eland said the expected start of production from an onshore well in the country has been delayed by a month following problems with the rig it is using.

Drilling of the Opuama 9 well has been suspended. Completion is now expected in April.

In February Aim-listed Eland told investors there had been delays on Opuama 9 due to mechanical issues but completion was expected in the first quarter, in line with the original plan.

Yesterday chief executive George Maxwell said: “Although any delay is frustrating it is not unexpected during a multi-well drilling campaign.”

He added: “It should not mask the success of our ongoing drilling campaign which has increased gross production from 12,000 barrels of oil per day to a record 23,164 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in under six months.”

Eland expects production to reach 30,000 boepd in the first half.

Mr Maxwell has noted operating in Nigeria can involve challenges but there are significant rewards on offer. Eland can produce from onshore wells in the country relatively cheaply.

The company is producing from four wells on the Opuama field. It completed the Opuama 7 and 8 wells in November and January respectively.

It had to suspend production from Opuama for longer than a year after the Forcados terminal used to handle output was shut down due to sabotage. The Shell-operated terminal reopened in May last year.