Premier Oil is planning to increase its Aberdeen workforce as the firm expands its UK North Sea operations, its chief executive told the Press and Journal at the Offshore Northern Seas oil show in Norway yesterday.
Simon Lockett is expecting to add a further 10 people to its current Granite City total of 112 people.
He said the new recruits would mainly be geoscientists.
London-based Premier gained its first proper presence in Aberdeen last year.
This came after it struck a deal with administrators to acquire Oilexco North Sea (Oilexco NS) for £345million. The agreement included the transfer of all assets and its entire 80-strong workforce, including employees working offshore and at offices in Aberdeen and Norwich.
The sum changing hands was substantially less than what was owed by Oilexco.
Premier said at the time the acquisition was the most exciting development in its history.
Mr Lockett said at the time it had secured an attractive, high-growth North Sea-focused business, complementing its existing assets in the basin, at a compelling valuation of less than $8.50 per barrel.
It also gave Premier critical mass in the North Sea.
Speaking from the company’s stand at the Stavanger show, he described Oilexco as the bargain of the century.
Premier is a growing FTSE 250 oil and gas exploration and production company with current interests in nine countries around the world.
Its target is to deliver growth by building three quality businesses, in the North Sea, the Middle East and Pakistan plus south-east Asia.
The firm, which employs 550 people worldwide and has a market capitalisation of around £1.7billion, has daily production of around 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent – 12,000 of them from the UK North Sea.
Premier’s strategy includes reaching 75,000 barrels from existing projects.
The firm said last month that the Catcher discovery in the UK central North Sea would move rapidly into development.
Catcher has been hailed by analysts as a potentially world-class discovery.
Premier – which has a 35% stake in Catcher – said then that it estimated recoverable reserves of between 60million to 100million barrels of oil for the area drilled to date, with significant untested potential.
Premier also has a 40% stake in the Huntington oil field in the central North Sea.
Huntington is said to have up to 150million barrels of oil in place.
Work on the development is expected to start in the third quarter of this year, with first oil expected by late 2011.
Mr Lockett said yesterday that there were still good opportunities to chase down in the UK North Sea.
He added: “We have put together a very good quality exploration team over the last few years.”
The chief executive said he was not losing sleep about any possibility of Premier becoming a bid target like Dana Petroleum.
South Korean national oil company KNOC recently launched a £1.7billion hostile takeover bid for the Aberdeen-based group.
Mr Lockett said: “To the best of my knowledge no one is banging, or not banging, on our door. I don’t spend time thinking about things like that. What I spend my time thinking about is delivering the projects we promise.”