North Sea heavyweight Ithaca Energy has underlined its confidence in the potential of the Cambo and Rosebank finds off Shetland after making huge profits in recent months.

The Israeli owned firm said it was “actively engaging” with firms that might buy in to the Cambo field although it has faced challenges in its efforts to finalise plans to develop the find.

Ithaca’s former partner in the proposed development, Shell, shelved plans for the project after they sparked fierce opposition from environmentalists.

Ithaca acquired Shell’s stake in a deal it said yesterday involved “limited near-term cost”.

Executive chairman Gilad Myerson said Ithaca had enjoyed a quarter of strong strategic progress and continued financial delivery in the three months to September 30.

He was speaking as the company disclosed that it made $1.37 billion (£1.1bn) profit in the first nine months of the year. That compared with $1.44bn in the same period last year.

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Ithaca’s confidence in the prospects for Cambo has probably been boosted by the fact that Norwegian major Equinor decided in September to proceed with plans to develop the huge Rosebank find off Shetland. Ithaca has a 20% stake in Rosebank.

In a results statement issued yesterday, Mr Myserson said: “The decision to progress with Phase I of the Rosebank development alongside Equinor represents a significant milestone for Ithaca as we continue to deliver against our BUY, BUILD and BOOST strategy.”

The company bought a 40% stake in the Fotla discovery in July with a view to bringing the field into production in 2026.

In the results announcement, Ithaca noted the progress it has made to increase production from North Sea assets acquired from other firms such as the Captain field.  

Ithaca acquired a stake in Captain with a $2bn portfolio it bought from America’s Chevron in 2019.

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Another big North Sea player, Neptune Energy, has highlighted the value of a field it brought into production this month off Scotland soon after accepting a multi-billion dollar takeover bid that underlined the appeal of the area to overseas investors.

Neptune said the start of production from the Seagull field east of Aberdeen with BP is expected to help it achieve a material increase in production in the current quarter.

This will allow Neptune to capitalise on the increase in oil and gas prices seen in recent weeks amid moves by Saudi Arabia to support the market.

The start-up of Seagull came five months after Neptune agreed to an offer from Italian oil and gas giant Eni that valued the group at $4.9bn (£4bn). The deal could pave the way for bumper payouts to the investors that supported the firm’s push for rapid growth in the North Sea.

These include US private equity firm Carlyle and state-owned China Investment Corporation.

Eni’s decision to buy Neptune indicated it saw growth potential in a business which became a significant force in the industry helped by acquisitions in the North Sea.

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Neptune acquired its interest in the 50 million barrel Seagull find from US giant Apache in 2018.

Neptune is assessing the potential of the Isabella find made off Scotland in 2020 with TotalEnergies of France and Ithaca Energy.

The group also has operations in countries ranging from Norway to Indonesia.

It made $536m third quarter operating profit, against $887m last time. Neptune’s UK business made $28.8m, down from $42.9m.

Oil and gas prices have fallen from highs reached last year amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. Uncertainty about the outlook for the global economy has weighed on sentiment.

However, Neptune’s production remains very profitable.

The company received an average $62.50 per barrel oil equivalent for its output in the third quarter. Production costs averaged $12.70/boe.

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 Neptune noted: “Oil realisations strengthened in the third quarter as oil markets tightened as a result of OPEC production cuts.”

Regarding European gas markets, the company added: “Q3 saw multiple event-driven price spikes, with Norwegian outages and potential strike action in Australia resulting in short-term rallies.”