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Statoil Begins Production Drilling At Mariner Oil Field

After having pushed last year the production timetable for the Mariner oil field from 2017 to 2018, Norway’s Statoil (NYSE:STO) said on Friday that production drilling at the field located in the UK section of the North Sea had started.

The Mariner heavy oil field, some 95 miles east of the Shetland Isles, has reserves estimated at more than 250 million barrels of oil, with an average plateau production of around 55,000 barrels per day, the Norwegian company said today.

Statoil, which is operator of the field with a 65.11-percent interest, will drill up to five wells before platform hook-up and commissioning activity begins in the summer of 2017. First oil from Mariner is expected in 2018.

In October of last year, Statoil said that together with its partners, it had decided to accept a delayed timetable for the start of production at Mariner from 2017 to the second half of 2018. In addition, Statoil recognized that costs for the development of Mariner have increased by slightly more than 10 percent compared to the original investment plan.

When it announced its investment decision for the Mariner project in December 2012, Statoil said that investment would be more than US$7 billion in what would be the largest new offshore development in the UK in more than a decade.

Related: U.S. Shale Patch Welcomes OPEC Deal – But Needs $60 Oil

But in 2014 came the oil price crash and upended plans for investments in the UK North Sea. According to trade association Oil and Gas UK, investment into the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) sea areas, which incorporates all of the UK-held parts of the North Sea, has fallen down to US$11.32 billion (9 billion British pounds) this year, compared to a record US$18.62 billion (14.8 billion British pounds) two years ago.

This past October, the UK closed bidding for its first “frontier licensing round” in more than two decades. With the oil and gas blocks offered consisting mainly of more-conceptual plays in under-explored areas of the shelf — such as the East Shetland Platform, the Rockall Trough, and the Mid-North Sea High. The round attracted bids from 24 companies that had placed bids for 113 blocks, which is a significant part of the areas up for grabs.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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