Oil and gas operator Ithaca Energy is set to double its production following a start-up of the Stella field in the UK North Sea later this year.

The Ithaca-operated Greater Stella Area is centred on the drilling of subsea wells tied back to the FPF-1 floating production unit, with the onward transportation of processed hydrocarbons to nearby existing oil and gas export infrastructure.

In its first quarter results report on Monday, Ithaca said that its production was set to more than double to 20-25,000 boepd.

The company’s average production in the first quarter of 2016 was ~9,000 boepd (91% oil), reflecting the cessation of production from the Athena and Anglia fields and reduced production due to planned maintenance activities on the Pierce field and completion of a chemical treatment campaign on several wells in the Dons Area fields.

The company said that prompt ramp up of production was anticipated following first hydrocarbons, leading to an expected initial annualised production rate of approximately 16,000 boepd net to Ithaca.

Ithaca has seen a material reduction in operating costs to $25/boe, which is 17% below 2016 forecast of $30/boe prior to Stella start-up.

After several delays due to slippage in completion of certain commissioning milestones, Ithaca said that the FPF-1 modifications program, which is being undertaken by Petrofac in the Remontowa shipyard in Poland, was on track for first production from the Stella field in September 2016, with FPF-1 sail-away in June.

According to the company, commissioning operations on the vessel are well advanced and close out of the marine work to ensure the vessel satisfies the required sail-away certification standards is progressing to plan.

The company added that the next key milestone would be the completion of deep water trials immediately prior to starting the tow to the field. This involves the FPF-1 being moved to a location off the coast of Gdansk in order to undertake the necessary marine system commissioning trials that cannot be done in the shallow waters of the shipyard, Ithaca explained.

Ithaca also stated that the period from sail-away to first hydrocarbons would be approximately three months, and following towing of the FPF-1 to the field, the vessel would be moored on location using twelve pre-installed anchor chains. The dynamic risers and umbilicals that connect the subsea infrastructure to the vessel will then be installed, said Ithaca.

Thereafter, commissioning of the various processing and utility systems that can only be undertaken on location with hydrocarbons from the field will be completed, the company concluded.