March 20 (UPI) -- After announcing it would remove "oil" from its name, Norwegian energy major Statoil said it's now operating a legacy oil and gas asset in the North Sea.
Statoil said Tuesday it completed a transaction with Total that gives it a 70 percent stake in the Martin Linge oil and gas field in the Norwegian waters of the North Sea.
Total in November agreed to sell off its entire stake in a field estimated to hold 300 million barrels of oil equivalent. The Norwegian company said the field's infrastructure was modern, costs would be low and production could extend into the 2030s.
A May accident during construction of Martin Linge infrastructure at a South Korean shipyard left six people dead and more than 20 others injured. Less than a week before the accident, the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said the results of an audit found serious deficiencies that could impede the start of operations at Martin Linge.
Statoil nevertheless expects operations could begin during the first half of 2019 and some of the components for Martin Linge are already in place in the North Sea. The initial discovery at Martin Linge was made in 1975.
As part of the deal, Statoil also acquired Total's 40 percent stake in the Garantiana, which has a reserve potential in a range between 50 million and 70 million barrels of oil equivalent.
Last week, the board of directors at Statoil proposed a name change to Equinor -- drawing in part on words like "equal" and "nor" to signify its Norwegian roots.
Statoil is one of the leading producers of oil and gas in the world, drawing on reserves from the North Sea to the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Equity production in the fourth quarter was 2.1 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, almost a 2 percent increase from the previous year.
The government owns shares in Statoil, which had income of $5.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared to a loss of $1.9 million in the same period of 2016.
The deal with Total had an estimated value of $1.45 billion.