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700 North Sea jobs boost from Norwegian firm

More than 700 jobs will be created after the energy company Statoil announced a £4.3 billion investment in the North Sea.

The Norwegian energy firm will develop the Mariner oil field, which is located some 95 miles east of the Shetland Isles.

The company hailed this as the largest new offshore development in the UK for more than a decade.

Lars Christian Bacher, executive vice-president for international development and production at Statoil, said the plans would lead to "substantial job creation" in the Aberdeen area, with more than 700 long-term, full-time posts expected.

The company expects to take on 200 people to work at an operations centre in Aberdeen as well as creating more than 500 offshore positions.

Pending final approval from the UK authorities, Statoil expects to start producing oil there in 2017, with an estimated 30 years' worth of supply in the Mariner field.

Mr Bacher said: "We are satisfied we now are able to make an investment decision for a profitable development of the Mariner field.

"The Mariner project is a good strategic fit for Statoil. We are the world's largest offshore operator and have a portfolio of attractive projects in some of the most prolific basins in the world. 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."

He added: "This project will entail substantial job creation in the Aberdeen region, with more than 700 long-term full-time positions. Of these, around 200 will be onshore jobs at the operations centre in Aberdeen and more than 500 will be offshore positions.

"We aim to recruit most of these positions locally. We are planning to start the first recruitments early in 2013."

The development was announced the day after a Japanese firm announced it was acquiring an extensive portfolio of oil and gas assets in the UK Continental Shelf. JX Nippon Oil and Gas Exploration has signed a deal to buy 17 producing fields, along with several others that are either being developed or are expected to be developed shortly.

Maureen Watt, SNP MSP for Aberdeen South and North Kincardine, said: "The creation of 700 new jobs and financial interest from Japan is a sure sign that the stock of Scotland's oil is a hugely valuable resource."

She described North Sea oil as a "tremendous asset with vast untapped reserves worth up to £1.5 trillion" and added: "There is a higher value of oil and gas remaining than has so far been extracted and if we are to make the most of them, then we need access to the economic levers needed to ensure Scotland remains a world leader in energy."

She criticised opposition parties for their comments on the oil industry.

"Despite anti-independence scaremongering about 'oil running out' being wheeled out – the simple fact is Westminster politicians are terrified of losing Scotland's resources.

"Instead of being squandered as they have been by successive Westminster Governments – Tory and Labour – we need the powers of an independent Scotland to ensure that oil and gas resources work for the benefit of the people of Scotland."

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