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Statoil starts work at its largest asset in British North Sea

Start of a drilling campaign comes less than a week after Norwegian company brought in BP as a partner.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Norwegian energy company Statoil says it's ready to go with new North Sea work, months after opening an office in Scotland. Photo courtesy of Statoil
Norwegian energy company Statoil says it's ready to go with new North Sea work, months after opening an office in Scotland. Photo courtesy of Statoil

ABERDEEN, Scotland, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil said it was making new strides in the North Sea by moving from planning to development of the region's Mariner oil field.

"Mariner is one of the largest projects currently under development in the British continental shelf," the Norwegian company said in a statement. "Contracts worth over $1.3 billion have been awarded to date to the U.K. supply chain by the project."

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Statoil said production drilling is under way at the Mariner field, heralding the shift in development from the planning phase to active offshore operations. Up to five wells are planned before first oil production is slated in 2018.

In September, the Norwegian energy company opened an office in Aberdeen with an eye on building a stronger footprint in the regional waters of the North Sea. By 2018, the Scottish government said it expects Statoil to add 700 full-time jobs to the economy.

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Data published by the Scottish government said the North Sea remains the largest oil producer and second-largest natural gas producer in Europe. The government said there's no disputing the industry is depressed, but production is expected to increase by as much as 17 percent by 2019.

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Hedda Felin, a regional director for Statoil, said in a statement that getting an early start on drilling activity ahead of production means the field can hit its peak output levels more quickly.

"This is an exciting period for us as a [British shelf] operator as we transition from the planning phase to active offshore operations," she said.

RELATED BP builds up North Sea portfolio

The announcement for Mariner comes less than a week after British energy company BP said it was taking a stake in the Jock Scott reserve basin from Statoil. Working alongside the Norwegian company, BP said it was planning new drilling in the North Sea next year.

Overall, BP said it plans to drill up to five exploration wells over the next 18 months and 50 development wells over the next three to four years. The company estimates total regional production will reach 200,000 barrels per day by the end of the decade.

Statoil said Mariner holds an estimated 250 billion barrels of oil and peak production should be around 55,000 barrels of oil per day.

RELATED Statoil moving quick on new oil field development

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