The Aberdeen company, under Korean ownership, said it was well placed to tie into existing pipeline assets.

Dana has a 35% interest and is the drilling operator in the Pharos block. Its partners include Parkmead, also based in Aberdeen, with a 20% stake.

There are 15% stakes also held by Hansa Hydrocarbons, Dyas Exploration UK and MPX North Sea.

The discovery, about 30 miles (50km) off the Humberside coast, is yet to be evalued to determine the volume of gas it contains.

When drilling started, it was seen as a very strong prospect for gas.

‘Further value’

Paul Griffin, Dana’s UK managing director, said: “This is the fifth North Sea exploration and appraisal well that Dana has drilled as operator or in partnership during 2013.

“Pharos is well located to take advantage of a number of gas export options in the area and we now need to undertake further detailed technical work to evaluate its commercial potential.”

Tom Cross, executive chairman of Parkmead, said the find worked well with its recent Platypus gas discovery nine miles (14km) away, and helped give guidance for the area’s geology, including the nearby Blackadder prospect.

He added: “We are delighted to report that a discovery has been made at Pharos. This success could add significant further value to the Platypus gas field, strengthening Parkmead’s position in the UK southern gas basin.”

Dana Petroleum is owned by the Korean National Oil Corporation, with operations in the UK, the Netherlands, Norway and Africa.

It produces 50,000 barrels of oil per day, and has plans to spend $5bn (£3.1bn) on expanding over the next five years.

Tom Cross was chief executive when the Koreans took over Dana, after which he set up Parkmead.