Dec. 18 (UPI) -- German energy company Wintershall said it started production from its Maria oil field in Norwegian waters about a year early and below cost.
"Ahead of schedule and below budget: Maria is a major achievement for Wintershall, our partners and our suppliers," Martin Bachmann, a Wintershall board member in charge of European exploration and production programs, said in a statement.
Maria, located in the Norwegian Sea, is the first project that Wintershell took from development to production in Norwegian waters. Startup was planned originally in the fourth quarter of 2018 and the final investment of $1.4 billion was 25 percent below the initial budget.
Maria is developed through a complex network of subsea links to production infrastructure operated by Statoil, a Norwegian company that has the government as one of its main stakeholders. The network, which Wintershall described as one of the most intricate in the world, means Maria can stay in production for 25 years and also have a positive spillover effect for other nearby fields.
"By using tried and tested components, and working closely with excellent suppliers, we have delivered a field that will continue to return value to us, our partners, and the whole of Norway, for many years to come," Jens Balmer, the head of the project, said.
Wintershall awarded more than 90 percent of the contracts to companies based in Norway and the field should add about 34,000 man hours over its lifetime.
Norway holds the largest crude oil and natural gas reserves in Europe and exports nearly all of what it produces offshore. Maria has an estimated 180 million barrels of oil equivalent, most of which exists as oil.
The government said last week that lower industry prices, an improved global economic outlook and higher oil prices suggest a period of decline in petroleum investments was over, though it may be facing some economic pressure in the quarters ahead.
Growth in gross domestic product has been just under 2 percent, a level indicative of healthy growth, for the past three quarters. Compared with previous periods of growth, the government said the pace has been only slightly better.