LONDON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A move by French energy company Total to start gas production from the North Sea is welcome news for an industry under pressure, Oil & Gas U.K. said Monday.
Total announced the start of gas production from the Laggane-Tormore field in the waters west of the Shetland Islands. Deirdre Michie, chief executive of the industry group, said the field already attracted rich investments and employed "thousands of people" at a time when the North Sea is on the decline.
"The confirmation of first gas production from the Laggan-Tormore field is very welcome news at a challenging time for the U.K. oil and gas industry as a whole," she said in a statement.
Total said the field should produce 90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day at full capacity, a level the company said will help increase British production levels at the same time as ensuring European energy security.
"Laggan-Tormore is a key component of our production growth in 2016 and beyond," Arnaud Breuillac, the company's president of exploration and production, said in a statement.
British energy company BP said it was cutting hundreds of positions from its payroll in the North Sea as the sector declines under pressure from lower crude oil prices and field maturation. British Prime Minister David Cameron in January pledged financial support to help maximize economic recovery in the North Sea.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said his government was doing its part to revitalize the North Sea, noting there are opportunities remaining if the right strategies are put in place.
"With 22 billion barrels of oil and gas remaining, the sector can still have a strong future," he said in a statement.