Rockhopper Exploration says it is carrying out work on several fronts in the hope of proceeding with the Sea Lion field off the Falkland Islands, despite the exit of former partner Harbour Energy.

Rockhopper said Harbour’s decision, announced last week, was a “difficult moment” but also presented a “very real opportunity”.

Work has already begun on an alternative, lower-cost scheme using the “existing extensive design and engineering work undertaken for the project in recent years”, Rockhopper said on Thursday.

It has started talks with Harbour and the Falkland Islands government to ensure an orderly exit by its larger UK-listed rival.