Norwegian government praises the official start of new production from its territorial waters in the North Sea. Photo by project1photography/Shutterstock
Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The start of new production in the North Sea is a testament to the enduring strength of Norway's energy sector, the country's energy minister said.
Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Soviknes was on hand for the official launch of the Ivar Aasen field in the country's territorial waters in the North Sea. Ivar Aasen, operated by Norwegian group Aker BP, has a total cost framework of $3.3 billion and could be in service for the next 20 years.
"The development of Ivar Aasen is an important milestone for the oil industry, and represents significant values for the Norwegian society," the minister said in a statement.
Aker BP started formal production at the Ivar Aasen field in December. The field has a peak production capacity of 68,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and will be connected to infrastructure associated with the nearby Edvard Grieg field.
Norway's central bank reported in January the nation's oil sector is past its peak, though the overall economy has turned the corner after historically weak growth last year. Wage growth and employment, meanwhile, were in a modest recovery phase, though a weaker currency value has pushed the rate of inflation higher.
Aker BP reported more than 5,000 were employed in the development of Ivar Aasen
"We are building a strong, cost-effective Aker BP, whose goal is to become a standard-setting company on the Norwegian shelf," CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik said in a statement. "Ivar Aasen has been organized, and will be operated, in a way that is completely in line with this strategy."
Aker BP, a merger of Norwegian energy companies and a national subsidiary of BP, reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization at $485 million for the fourth quarter.
Norway is a lead oil producer for the European economy, apart from Russia. The government reported preliminary production for December was around 2 million barrels per day, which was 3 percent lower than November. Full-year production, however, showed an increase for the third straight year.