Scottish oil firm Cairn Energy said today that it would get to work on its first operated exploration well in UK waters later this year.
Operations on Ekland are slated to begin in the central North Sea in the third quarter.
Edinburgh-headquartered Cairn holds a 45% stake in Ekland, Zennor Petroleum has 30% and Petrogas International has 25%.
Cairn also revealed it was back in the black last year, reporting pre-tax profits of £185million, a vast improvement on a deficit of £108million in 2016.
Highlights for 2017 included first oil from the Kraken and Catcher fields, in which Cairn holds non-operated stakes.
Cairn owns 29.5% of Kraken, which is operated by EnQuest.
The field is located about 80 miles east of Shetland and is served by the Kraken floating production, storage and offloading vessel.
Catcher, 110 miles off Aberdeen, produced first oil on December 23.
Cairn has a 20% stake in the project, operator Premier Oil owns 50%, MOL has 20% and Dyas is on 10%.
The company has also sent out tender invitations for the floating production, storage and offloading vessel and subsea infrastructure for the SNE field development off Senegal.
Cairn also reiterated that the final arbitration hearing in its tax dispute with the Indian government will take place in August.
The dispute started in 2014 when Cairn was accused of not paying taxes owed following the formation of its Indian subsidiary, a claim the Scottish company has denied.
Cairn chief executive Simon Thomson said: “With first oil production from its North Sea developments, Cairn continues to deliver a strong and balanced business with a growing production base supporting further development and a multi-well exploration programme offering significant growth potential.
“The company continues to maintain balance sheet strength and financial flexibility as we focus on creating, adding and realising value for shareholders from a portfolio of attractive exploration, development and production assets.”
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