Statoil cleared to develop Mariner oil field
The UK government has approved a £4.5bn project to develop a major UK North Sea oil field.
Norwegian firm Statoil had applied to develop the Mariner heavy oil field, which lies about 150km (93 miles) east of the Shetland Isles.
The company said it was the largest new offshore development in the UK in more than a decade.
It plans to create more than 700 jobs for the project, including 200 onshore posts in Aberdeen.
Statoil expects to start production from Mariner in 2017 and the field is expected to produce for 30 years.
The average production is estimated at around 55,000 barrels of oil per day over the period from 2017 to 2020.'Core area'
Statoil president and chief executive Helge Lund said: "Statoil and its partners appreciate the co-operation 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."
UK Energy Secretary Edward Davey said the Mariner project was a "vote of confidence" in the future of UK oil and gas.
He added: "Importantly, unlocking heavy oil production marks a new chapter in development, opening the potential for 5% of our oil reserves."
Conversation group WWF Scotland expressed disappointment at news of the go-ahead for Mariner.'Post-oil future'
Director Lang Banks said: "Instead of giving oil companies tax-breaks to help squeeze every last drop of oil and gas out from beneath our seas, government should be taking steps to help prepare Scotland and the UK for a post-oil future.
"Ending subsidies for polluting oil and gas and providing better support for clean renewable energy sources would be in the best interests our future economy as well as our environment."
Statoil is the operator of the Mariner field, with 65.11% equity. Other partners include JX Nippon Exploration and Production (UK) Limited (28.89%) and Cairn Energy (6%).
The development plan includes a production, drilling and quarters (PDQ) platform based on a steel jacket, with a floating storage unit (FSU).
More than 140 reservoir targets are planned for Mariner.