May 22 (UPI) -- British energy company BP said it started oil production from a North Sea basin after spending billions of dollars on regional redevelopment.
Working under the Quad 204 regional redevelopment effort, the company said it started oil production from the Schiehallion area west of the Shetland area of the North Sea. BP has produced nearly 400 million barrels of oil from Schiehallion since production started in the late 1990s and the company said redevelopment could yield another 450 million barrels and extend the field's life into the 2030s.
"Production from the project is expected to ramp up through the remainder of 2017 to a plateau level of 130,000 barrels of oil per day," the company stated.
BP said it was developing the project using an offshore floating production facility designed for the harsh conditions in the North Sea. Though regional reservoirs are reaching the age of maturity, BP said it aims to double its North Sea production to 200,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020.
BP reported a first quarter profit of $1.5 billion, compared with a year-over-year loss of $583 million. The company joined its industry peers in reporting a strong recovery in early 2017, after struggling through a 2016 market that saw crude oil prices drop below $30 per barrel.
The company last year reduced its North Sea headcount as it moved to streamline operations during the market downturn.
The North Sea redevelopment is the third of seven major projects that BP has planned for this year across its entire portfolio. New production from the Clair Ridge project in the North Sea is expected next year and the company said it plans to drill dozens of new wells in the region before the end of the decade.
"The start of production from Quad 204 -- one of the largest recent investments in the United Kingdom -- is an important milestone for BP, marking a return to growth for our North Sea business," BP CEO Bob Dudley said in a statement.