Statoil gets consent for $7 billion Mariner development plan

Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest oil and gas producer, got approval from the U.K. government for its plan for the Mariner project, the largest offshore development in the U.K.’s North Sea in more than a decade.

Statoil, based in Stavanger, will spend more than $7 billion developing the Mariner heavy oil field with its partners, which include Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Gas Exploration Corp., it said in a statement today. The field will start production in 2017 and plateau output is seen at about 55,000 barrels a day, Statoil said.

While Mariner was discovered about 30 years ago, it’s only recently that the technology has become available to exploit it, U.K. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey told reporters in Oslo. “We’ve had to wait for Statoil to innovate.”

Mariner will be developed with a production, drilling and quarters platform on a steel jacket, and a floating storage unit with a capacity of 850,000 barrels, Statoil said. The company will set up an operations centre in Aberdeen with the creation of more than 700 full-time jobs, it said.

The contract for engineering, procurement and construction of Mariner’s jacket, used to fix the platform to the seabed, was awarded to Dragados Offshore SA. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. won the contract for the topside, the upper part of the platform. The two agreements are valued at a total of 1.2 billion pounds ($1.9 billion).

Mariner is located about 150 kilometers (93 miles) east of the Shetland Isles in the North Sea. Statoil has a 65.1 percent stake in the field and 81.6 percent of Bressay, also in the North Sea. The Norwegian company expects to make a final investment decision on Bressay at the end of 2013, it said.