STAVANGER, Norway, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- A Norwegian regulator said a discovery of mostly natural gas was made in part of the North Sea not previously known to hold natural reserves
The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the nation's energy regulator, said a regional subsidiary of French supermajor Total discovered gas while drilling a wildcat well, a well drilled into an area not previously known to hold reserves.
"The well was drilled in the northeast part of the Martin Linge field," the NPD said in a statement.
Preliminary estimates put the size of the discovery at a maximum 388 million barrels of oil equivalent. During tests, the well produced gas at a rate of 84 million cubic feet per day.
The Norwegian government approved the development plan for the Martin Linge natural gas field in the northern reaches of the North Sea in 2012. According to Total, the development of the Martin Linge license area represented a $4.2 billion investment at the time.
Natural gas from the entire field, formerly known as Hild, would be shipped by pipeline to the United Kingdom while any oil extracted would be stored offshore.
Norway is a major supplier of oil and natural gas to the European economy. The government estimates production in August was lower than the previous month, but better than expected because of closures of some fields.