YESTERDAY’s update from North Sea-focused i3 Energy will boost hopes the recovery in the area is gathering pace and shows oil and gas firms are finding innovative ways to fund the investment it needs.

i3 is confident it will be able to go ahead soon with developing the Liberator find off Scotland after years in which spending on such relatively small developments has plunged.

The partial recovery in the oil price in recent months combined with cost cutting in the industry has helped improved the economics of developments.

i3’s experience suggests it has also encouraged City institutions to start investing in relatively small oil and gas firms again.

But i3 has been resourceful in advancing what it terms “multiple funding options” to finance its planned work.

This has included discussing joint venture arrangements with firms in the wider engineering chain. These may be prepared to take on some of the risk of developing fields in exchange for some of the rewards rather than simply selling their services.

Bank debt has been hard to obtain since the oil price tumbled in 2014. However a range of firms that raised debt in the last boom faced challenges when the oil price crashed. These included Iona Energy, which i3’s founders Neill Carson and Graham Heath helped develop.