Capricorn Energy is continuing to "explore ways of creating value for shareholders in the North Sea" following a sale and purchase agreement that will maintain its presence in UK waters despite increasing focus on its Egyptian assets.

The company formerly known as Cairn Energy said it produced less oil and gas in 2023 than the prior year, missing its full-year target of between 32,000 and 36,000 daily barrels. This was largely due to the timing of delivery of key projects in Egypt, along with lower-than-expected production from new wells.

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The company said its working interest production fell to 30,222 barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from 30,200 in 2022. Revenues declined to $202 million (£159m) versus $229.6m the prior year.

Capricorn decided a year ago to focus on Egyptian production assets that the company acquired from Shell under the leadership of former chief executive Simon Thomson.

Mr Thomson stepped down from the Capricorn board along with other members of the management team in January 2023 following a campaign for change led by a rebel investor. Palliser Capital opposed Mr Thomson’s plans to merge Capricorn with Tullow Oil and then with Newmed Energy.

As part of that change of strategy, Capricorn cut its UK workforce by 75% and subsequently entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Waldorf Production relating to the disposal of its previously held interests in the Catcher and Kraken fields. Under the terms of that agreement, Capricorn will receive a $72.5m payment along with Waldorf's 25% non-operated working interest in the Columbus gas field in the UK Central North Sea.

Capricorn received $48m of that payment in December, with a further $24.5m to be paid within the net 12 months.

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"The interest [in Columbus] will be transferred into an existing Capricorn UK subsidiary and should deliver consistent cash flows from a 1 January 2024 effective date, with approximately 80% of production exposed to the UK gas price," the company said in yesterday's trading update.

"In addition, the acquisition of the Columbus field allows the company to maintain its presence in the UK North Sea where it has been active over the last decade through continuous exploration and production activities."

Capricorn added: "The company continues to explore ways of creating value for shareholders in the UK North Sea."

Shares in Capricorn closed yesterday's trading 3.8p lower at 141p, a decline of 2.6%.