OIL explorer Tullow yesterday said it was stepping up work on its Zaedyus discovery in French Guiana.
The FTSE 100 company, which has a 17 per cent stake in the project, said a drill ship would start work next month, in a trading update covering 1 January to 16 May.
An appraisal will be carried out first before full scale drilling begins.
Shell has a 45 per cent stake and is the operator of the field which also has Northern Petroleum and Wessex Exploration with small stakes.
Tullow said it expected the company’s overall daily oil production to be in the range of 78-86,000 barrels for the full year.
The company said net debt stood at around $500m (£313m).
It added in a statement: “Tullow is confident that, having delivered industry-leading basin-opening exploration success already this year, and with key developments progressing well, the group will deliver further significant growth in 2012.”