Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government said Friday that a division of Austrian energy company OMV can move toward pioneer drilling in the Norwegian Sea.
OMV received a permit to drill into a reserve area located about 15 miles north of the Kristin field, which is a gas producer in the Norwegian Sea.
"This is the first well to be drilled in the license," the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said.
The permit comes one day after the NPD said German energy company Wintershall was bringing its Maria gas field in the Norwegian Sea into production about a year ahead of schedule. The company estimates the Maria field holds about 180 million barrels of oil equivalent and most of that exists as oil. The Norwegian regulator said the field should stay in production for about 22 years.
The regional subsidiary of Wintershall, Hugo Dijkgraaf, said production expectations were high and projected costs were low.
"Delivering a production startup less than two and a half years after investment approval for such a complex offshore project is a testament to Wintershall's capability to deliver on development projects," he told UPI.
Wintershall is a division of BASF, which said sales from its oil and gas segment rose "considerably" when compared with third quarter 2017.
OMV reported an operating net profit in the third quarter of $933 million, up 52 percent from the same period last year. The company said it was in no position to comment yet on the reserve potential for the license area in question in the Norwegian Sea.
Norway is an important oil and gas producer, sending nearly all of what it produces offshore to the European market.
This week, the country's central bank recommended the government pull oil and gas stocks out of its pension fund. Norges Bank said the move would make Norwegian government wealth less exposed to a "permanent drop in oil and gas prices."