UK govt approves £4.6-bn Statoil project in North Sea

The UK government has approved Norwegian oil and gas major Statoil ASA's £4.6-billion ($7 billion) development of Mariner oil field in the North Sea, the largest new offshore development in the UK in more than a decade.

The UK's department of energy and climate change (DECC) has given its green signal for the project, which targets a production of around 55,000 barrels of heavy oil per day from 2017, for  the next 30 years.

Stavanger-based Statoil holds a 65-per cent stake in the Mariner oil field. Other partners for the project include Japan's JX Nippon Exploration and Production UK Ltd with a 29-per cent stake, and Alba Resources Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Britain's Cairn Energy Plc which owns the remaining 6 per cent.

Statoil claims to have extensive experience in the operation of heavy oil fields in Norway and Brazil.

The company's president and CEO Helge Lund said, ''Statoil and its partners appreciate the cooperation from the UK government and the approval of the development plan for this landmark project.''

''The North Sea is a core area for Statoil and we look forward to taking a leading role in further developing also the UK part of this basin,'' Lund further stated.