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Maersk's £150m North Sea venture approved

MAERSK Oil highlighted its enthusiasm for the UK North Sea after winning Government approval for the £150 million development of the Balloch oil field 140 miles north-east of Aberdeen.

The Danish oil and gas firm said the Balloch development is one of a number of UK exploration and development projects that it is fully committed to bringing onstream in the coming years.

With estimated reserves of nine million barrels oil, assuming a two-well development, the field is relatively small. However, the project reflects the advantages firms enjoy when developing assets close to existing production infrastructure.

The company expects to make quick progress by tying the Balloch field back to a floating production storage and offloading facility that is producing oil from its Dumbarton and Lochranza assets. A division of the AP Moller-Maersk shipping giant, the oil and gas firm expects to start production from the first Balloch well in April at 8000 barrels oil per day.

It plans to develop a second well to maximise production from the field.

Martin Rune Pedersen, managing director of Maersk Oil UK, said: "Our investment in the Balloch field is part of Maersk Oil's ambitious long-term growth strategy in the UK.

"We have a strong portfolio of development and exploration projects, and are fully committed to bring these onstream in the next five to seven years."

UK Energy Minister John Hayes said: "Balloch is an excellent example of a smaller field using existing infrastructure. This type of development will become increasingly important for maximising oil and gas recovery."

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