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Jan. 11 (UPI) — Total British offshore oil and gas production was up from 2016 and even more is expected as the Catcher field in the North Sea ramps up, Premiere Oil said.

Premiere Oil said Thursday its total British production last year of nearly 40,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day was up 20 percent from 2016. Full year total production of 75,000 barrels of oil equivalent was in line with guidance, and up from the previous year by 5 percent.

The company in late December started producing oil from the three fields — Burgman, Catcher and Varadero — that make up the Catcher complex in the North Sea. Initial production from its floating production, storage and offloading vessel parked over the area was around 10,000 barrels per day. A peak rate of around 60,000 barrels per day is expected during the first half of 2018.

“As Catcher builds up to 60,000 barrels per day, 2018 will bring higher production and cashflow, continuing the debt reduction program,” Chief Executive Tony Durrant said in a statement.

Since the start of production, Catcher is already at 20,000 barrels per day.

Discovered in 2010 by Premiere, the company at the time put the gross reserve estimate between 25 million and 50 million barrels of oil. When production started in December, the company said Catcher holds about 96 million barrels of oil equivalent.

For Catcher, Premiere said total project spending was now expected to be about $1.6 billion, 29 percent lower than expected. Total capital spending for this year was expected to be about $300 million, below its previous guidance of $325 million.

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.

First shipments from Catcher are expected in late January.