BP has appointed a new boss for its North Sea business as the oil giant underlined its ambition to double production in the area by 2020.

Ariel Flores, a 19-year BP veteran, will succeed Mark Thomas as BP’s Aberdeen-based North Sea Regional President in March after a period managing its interests in Iraq.

Mr Thomas will become joint head of the Group Chief Executive’s Office in London. He has run the North Sea business since 2016.

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BP has retrenched in the North Sea under Mr Thomas, selling non-core assets and shedding around 600 jobs in response to the challenges posed by the fall in the crude price since 2014.

However, Mr Thomas said: “I am moving on at a time of positive momentum for BP in the North Sea as we advance towards our target of producing 200,000 barrels a day by 2020.”

Last month BP announced it had made finds off Shetland and Aberdeen in 2017. Led by chief executive Bob Dudley, the firm said the 2017 exploration campaign was its most successful in the North Sea since 2008 when it made the 50 million barrel Kinnoull find.

Mr Flores joined BP in 1999 as an operations engineer in Wyoming in the USA. He has held operational, commercial and leadership roles in America, Russia, Azerbaijan, Angola and the UK.