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BP Doubles North Sea Gas Stake as Exploration Chief Prepares to Exit

Subsea Culzean

As BP announced a doubling of its interest in the largest discovered gas field in the North Sea in the last ten years, the company’s exploration head prepares his exit.

On Monday, BP announced that it had doubled its interest the Culzean development at the same time that exploration head Richard Herbert is set to step down this June as BP tries to streamline the upstream executive team under a single leader, James Dupree.

BP raised its position in the Maersk Oil-operated Culzean development from 16 percent to 32 percent as part of BP’s five-year/US$10 billion investment program.

Related: Can Big Oil Survive At Today’s Prices?

The gas field, which lies about 145 miles east of Aberdeen, is expected to come online in 2019 and be large enough to supply 5 percent of UK demand by the time it reaches peak production sometime in 2020 or 2021.

“BP has been focusing and refreshing its North Sea portfolio by bringing new fields into production, redeveloping and renewing existing producing facilities and divesting some of its more mature or less strategic assets,” Thomas added. “Our deepening in Culzean further demonstrates our commitment to supporting the development of another UK field for the future.”

Related: Oil Markets Balancing Much Faster Than Thought

British officials hailed the announcement. "With BP doubling investment in Culzean gas field, the opening of Total's new Shetland facility today and new powers for the Oil and Gas Authority through the UK government's Energy Bill becoming law, this has been a good week for our oil and gas industry," UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said.

Discovered in 2008, the gas condensate field has resources estimated at 250-300 million barrels of oil equivalent. Production is expected to start in 2019 and continue into the 2030s, with plateau production of 60,000-90,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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