May 16 (UPI) -- Expect strong returns now that production from the Catcher oil field in the British waters of the North Sea has accelerated, Premiere Oil said Wednesday.
Premiere said the Catcher field has been producing at more than 60,000 barrels per day over the last few days, putting its gross production rate above 90,000 bpd. Production so far during the first quarter averaged 74,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and the company expects a full-year range between 80,000 and 85,000 boe per day, in line with its guidance.
"The improved commodity price environment puts us in a strong position to generate significant free cash flow in the second half of the year," Chief Executive Tony Durrant said in a statement.
The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, is up more than 50 percent from this time last year.
Premier Oil, the field's operator, lifted the first cargo from Catcher in January, earlier than expected. Production in late December, using a floating production vessel parked over the three fields that make up Cather, was around 10,000 bpd. Reaching the 60,000 bpd plateau is on par with expectations.
The complex, comprised of the Catcher, Burgman and Varadero fields, was discovered in 2010 by Premiere and the company at the time put the gross reserve estimate between 25 million and 50 million barrels of oil.
Premiere said 12 producing wells are expected during the initial phase of operations at Catcher and as many as 19 are expected during peak production.
Catcher's development supports an offshore industry that was crippled in December when the region's Forties pipeline system, which carries about 40 percent of the oil produced in the North Sea, was closed after a crack was discovered on infrastructure onshore near Aberdeen. Deirdre Michie, the chief executive at trade group Oil & Gas U.K., said the outage, which lasted about two and a half weeks, cost the industry around $26 million per day.