North Sea oil specialist EnQuest said it was on track to relaunch production from Alma, Britain’s first producing North Sea oilfield, by the end of this year.

Last month EnQuest announced plans to increase the scope of redevelopment of the previously abandoned Alma/Galia field which it won in a licensing round in 2011. It now expects to see production restart in the fourth quarter of this year and, at peak, reach 13,000 barrels of oil a day.

The central North Sea field, previously named Argyll, was discovered in 1971 and won the race to become the first field to produce oil in the UK in 1975, three months ahead of BP’s Forties development.

Declining recovery rates at the field 200 miles southeast of Aberdeen caused it to be abandoned twice – once in the early 1990s and again within two years of a restart on production a decade ago.

But EnQuest predicts the revived field, estimated to contain a remaining 34m barrels of oil, could operate for a further 15 years using new extraction techniques and after estimated capital investment of $1.3bn.

Last May EnQuest announced Kuwait’s national oil company had committed $500m to fund the redevelopment and acquired a 35 per cent interest in the Alma/Galia oilfield.

Amjad Bseisu, chief executive, described EnQuest’s move to acquire a controlling 60 per cent interest in Kraken last year – expected to be one of the largest developments in the UK sector of the North Sea of the decade – as having “created game-changing potential” for the company.

EnQuest, spun out of FTSE 100 oil services supplier Petrofac in 2010, expects to submit a field development plan for Kraken by end of June, with first oil production expected by the beginning of 2016.

The company, which is also in the middle of a series of other brownfield projects aimed at enhancing the output and lifespan of existing North Sea oil and gasfields, expects to spend $750m on capital expenditure this year – nearly half on its Alma project and $75m on Kraken – compared with $800m spent in 2012.

Mr Bseisu, who two years ago attacked chancellor George Osborne for a $2bn tax raid on North Sea operators, said actions by the UK government since had helped re-establish confidence in investing in oil and gas.

He particularly welcomed the introduction of brownfield and smaller field allowances that would give incentives to operators not to leave reserves that were more costly to recover in the ground. “The government’s has done a very good job creating certainty,” he said.

Production across EnQuest’s portfolio slipped by 4 per cent to 23,000 barrels a day – still slightly ahead of the mid range of guidance given by EnQuest last year. Average production is expected to rise to between 22,000 and 27,000 boepd this year.

Revenues slipped from $936m to $890m but pre-tax profits rose from $363m to $403m. A sharp fall in EnQuest’s tax bill led to earnings per share jumping from 7.6c to 45.4c.