Three former employees of Enterprise Oil have set up their own company to acquire and develop oil and gas properties in the North Sea and northern Europe.
John Martin, Patrick Kennedy and Simon Lunn are the directors of London-based Hansa Hydrocarbons.
The company said yesterday that it had received a £50million funding commitment from US private-equity firm Avista Capital Partners.
Hansa is in negotiations to buy its first assets.
The firm plans to focus on commercialising relatively low-risk undeveloped fields where opportunities exist to supply natural gas to the western European market.
It is concentrating initially on acquiring stranded natural gas fields primarily in the UK, Dutch and German sectors of the southern North Sea, and is also evaluating onshore opportunities across the Permian Basin from the Netherlands to Poland.
Mr Martin, chief executive of Hansa, said: “We are delighted to partner with Avista Capital, which has an enormous amount of experience and a long history of success in investing in all aspects of the energy sector.
“Avista’s financial resources, operational expertise and contacts, coupled with our commercial and technical expertise and significant European knowledge, will enable the company to build a world-class portfolio of assets within the next few years. We are extremely optimistic about Hansa’s prospects in 2008 and beyond.”
Mr Martin has also worked for Total, Shell and BG Group, while Mr Kennedy has been with Vetco International and Mr Lunn has been at BP and founded Lunn Upstream Consultants.
Steven Webster, joint managing partner of Avista, added: “We look forward to working with Hansa’s management team, which has significant experience and success in evaluating and cultivating high-quality exploration and development programmes worldwide.
“With major oil and gas companies operating in the North Sea now focusing on larger fields elsewhere, we think considerable opportunities exist to acquire and develop stranded natural gas assets which have either been overlooked or are too small for larger companies to cost-effectively develop.
“In addition, supply is unable to keep up with increasing European natural gas demand, and we therefore believe this is a particularly attractive time to be investing in North Sea natural gas assets.”
Antrim Energy, the Canadian oil and gas operator, said yesterday that subsidiary Antrim Resources (NI) had signed a £25million working-capital facility agreement with Bank of Scotland.
The money will be available for pre-development costs associated with Antrim’s Causeway property and for the appraisal of the Fyne and Dandy fields in the UK.
The amount available under the facility will increase as Antrim prepares, submits and receives final approval of a field-development plan (FDP) for Causeway.
Antrim chief executive Stephen Greer said: “We are very pleased to have finalised this agreement with Bank of Scotland.
“Going forward, we anticipate a close working relationship with the bank and replacing this facility upon FDP approval, with a larger senior secured field-development facility for both the Causeway and Fyne fields.”
Drilling operations on Fyne are under way.
Antrim said early cash flow from Causeway production and the Fyne field are expected to fund the development of additional reserves in the Causeway, Fyne and Dandy areas.