Chrysaor Holdings Ltd., which bought a portfolio of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (NYSE: RDS.A) assets last year, said March 22 it would acquire stakes in three aging North Sea fields from Spirit Energy.

"The acquisition is part of Chrysaor's strategy to prolong asset life, maximize recovery and deliver value from the UK North Sea," CEO Phil Kirk said in a statement.

The company will soon begin surveys in preparation of drilling new wells in the fields, he said.

Private equity-backed Chrysaor will become the sole owner of the Armada, Maria and Seymour fields, it said. It expects the deal to close in the second half of 2018.

The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Spirit, an oil and gas joint venture created last year between Centrica Plc and Bayerngas Norge AS, will retain costs linked to future decommissioning—plugging and dismantling—of the fields, Chrysaor said.

Analysts at consultancy Wood Mackenzie (WoodMac)said the fields produced 8,300 barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2017 and that previous plans had called for production to end this year.

Smaller, privately owned companies have entered the North Sea in recent years by acquiring fields from longstanding players such as Shell, Engie SA and OMV Group.

Backed by Harbour Energy Ltd., an investment vehicle of EIG Global Energy Partners, Chrysaor has stakes in 10 fields and produces around 130,000 bbl/d of oil and gas, making it the largest independent North Sea producer.

It aims to increase production to 200,000 bbl/d, Chairman Linda Cook has told Reuters.

"We expect the company will still look to grow its portfolio both organically and inorganically. This private equity player has a declining asset base, with production dropping below 100,000 bbl/d by 2020," WoodMac analyst Fiona Legate said.

"Our view is that larger acquisitions will be needed if the company is to monetize this portfolio in the near term."