MAERSK Oil has underscored its enthusiasm for the North Sea after the company won official approval for its plans to develop two fields for an outlay of around £300m.

The Danish company said it was gathering momentum in the North Sea after getting clearance from the authorities to develop the Flyndre and Cawdor fields 180 miles south east of Aberdeen.

"Approval of this plan supports our long-term strategy for growth and our aim to double production in the UK North Sea by 2020," said Martin Rune Pedersen, managing director of Maersk Oil in the UK.

Loading article content

He noted Maersk recently got the green light for the £150m development of the Balloch oil field 140 miles north-east of Aberdeen.

The company expects production from Flyndre to start in 2016 and to peak at around 10,000 barrels of oil per day.

The Flyndre field straddles the border between the UK and Norwegian North Seas.

The UK Energy Minister, Michael Fallon MP, welcomed close co-operation with Norway over a significant cross border development.

Maersk Oil expects Cawdor to come onstream in 2017 and to produce up to 5,000 barrels of oil per day.

The company will get around 60% of the output from both fields, with partners taking the balance.

Maersk Oil produced an average 42,000 barrels oil equivalent daily in the UK in the first quarter.

A subsidiary of Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk, it bought Kerr McGee's North Sea operations for around £1bn in 2005.

Separately, Petrofac has won a lucrative extension to a contract to support Enquest's North Sea Assets.

The oil services giant has been appointed to provide operations and maintenance support in a deal worth around $630m (£375m).

It said the contract supports 300 offshore and onshore jobs.

The contract will last up to ten years.

It replaces one awarded last year, which was worth $300m over five years.