North Sea developer Ithaca insists bad weather delays will not stop work on the Greater Stella development from being completed in time.

The oil firm confirmed today that recent storms in the region had hampered drilling work on the project, and delayed getting the Ensco 100 rig to the right place for two development wells. The company’s Fionn sidetrack project was also hit by weather delays.

But the company, which expects to have the 30,000 barrel a day field up and running by the end of the year, said it had now started on the third of four wells and expected to have all four ready by the time the floating production facility arrives later this year.

“The 2014 subsea infrastructure installation programme is scheduled to commence in April and will be completed over several campaigns during the year, culminating in the hook-up of the FPF-1 and risers upon the arrival of the vessel on location,” the company said today.

The news comes as the Aberdeen-based firm saw profits up 55% to £87million for 2013, with cashflow up around 170% to £146million for the year.

Ithaca, which has also been given the go-ahead for the Don North East North Sea licence by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, was boosted through picking up Valiant Petroleum’s portfolio last year.

“2013 marked a step-change in the development of the company,” said chief exective Les Thomas.

“Production, cashflow and reserves were all materially enhanced through the acquisition of Valiant. Significant progress and de-risking was achieved on all aspects of the Greater Stella Area development during the year.

“While delivery of first hydrocarbons from the hub remains the main focus of near term growth, we continue to look for new North Sea opportunities to drive additional longer term shareholder value”.

The company said it would look to spend more than £210million on projects this season, with plans for the Don South-west development plan to supplement their win on Don North-east set to be submitted by the end of the year.

But Ithaca reiterated it expected a downturn in production during the first quarter after maintenance shutdown of the Cook field, although it retained its production estimate of 11000-13000boed for the year.