Production from new UK North Sea fields helped drive up profits at US oil firm Apache last year.
Apache produced 63,000 barrels of oil equivalent (boe) per day in the UK during the last three months of 2018, the firm’s highest quarterly result in two years.
Its figures were boosted by the rapid startup of the Garten development in late November.
First oil from Garten came less than eight months after the initial discovery was made 180 miles north-east of Aberdeen.
Garten, 100% owned by Apache, is tied back to the Beryl Alpha platform and is expected to yield more than 10 million barrels of oil.
The firm also got the benefit of a full three months worth of production from the fourth development well at Callater.
Callater, also in the Beryl area, came on stream in May 2017.
Apache has a 55% working interest in Callater, while Chrysaor has the remaining 45%.
Full-year North Sea production averaged 56,000 boe per day, while group production came in at 466,000 boe per day, up 2% on 2017 levels.
Pre-tax profits increased by 4.5% to £720m, on revenues of £5.5 billion.
Apache reiterated its plans to reduce upstream oil and gas investment by 22% to £1.8bn in 2019.
Houston-headquartered Apache said growth would be “driven by investment in the US”, which would receive about 75% of the budget.
But the company vowed to keep investing “at a level to sustain long-term free cash flow in the North Sea”.
In August, Apache agreed to sell its 35% interest in the Seagull development and 50% of the Isabella prospect, both in the North Sea, to Neptune Energy.
Neptune’s chief executive is Jim House, who worked at Apache for more than 25 years.
John Christmann, Apache’s chief executive, said: “2018 was a year of strong returns, robust growth and excellent financial performance.
“On the international front, we increased production in the North Sea to its highest level in two years, and we laid a foundation for long-term potential production growth with the addition of significant acreage and progress on our extensive 3D-seismic program in Egypt.”
Apache entered the North Sea when it bought the Forties field from BP in 2003.
It acquired the Beryl, Ness, Nevis, Nevis South, Skene and Buckland fields from ExxonMobil in early 2012.