Fairfield has not yet decided on the proportion of its shares to be sold, but a banking source familiar with the matter told reporters the stake floated was likely to be more than 25 percent but less than half of the firm.
The initial public offering could value the company at more than $1bn, the Financial Times reported, a figure on which Fairfield declined to comment.
Fairfield, founded in 2005 and controlled by private equity firms led by Warburg Pincus, is one of several independent explorers that have been extending their grip on the North Sea in recent years, buying assets from oil majors focusing on larger reserves elsewhere.
British oil and gas output peaked in 1999 and is in decline, but up to 25 billion barrels of oil equivalent are thought to remain in fields too small for oil majors but which independent companies are looking to develop.
Fairfield will join Abu Dhabi National Energy Company TAQA and London-listed Enquest as one of the bigger independent North Sea-focused companies.
Like Enquest, Fairfield’s producing assets are also based in the northern North Sea and both companies are interested in acquiring assets from majors and smaller companies.
“We definitely do see the bulk of the best quality reserves still definitely being in the hands of the majors, that’s our main target area,” chief executive Mark McAllister said in a telephone interview with reporters.
Fairfield said it would use around 80 percent of the proceeds from the float to boost production from its producing oil fields, which it acquired in 2008 from Shell, and to bring other redevelopment projects into production.
“We’ve reached a stage where we need significant capital for the big capex programme we’ve got over the next three or four years to bring these assets on stream,” said McAllister.
The remaining 20 percent of the proceeds would be used to pursue acquisitions and for exploration and appraisal.
He added that current market volatility had not deterred the company from pressing ahead with its flotation. Fund manager Jupiter priced its listing on June 16, despite ongoing weakness in the IPO market. “We went out and did some pre-market research and received a very, very positive response which has encouraged the board to move forward to IPO,” McAllister said.
Fairfield posted total production of 4,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boed) in 2009, and has forecast that will grow to 34,400 boed in 2014. The company has “proved plus probable” reserves of 94.1 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Hawkpoint is acting as financial adviser and joint sponsor on the IPO, while Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse are acting as joint global coordinators, joint sponsors and bookrunners.