Production at the Rhum field, which is co-owned by BP and the Iranian Oil Company, was suspended in 2010. However, the energy ministry said yesterday it was allowing the restart to prevent permanent damage to the high-pressure, high-temperature field, which was not designed to remain shut permanently.
"The government supports restarting production at Rhum, which is necessary to avoid potential environmental damage and to prevent the possible destruction of the value of the field," the ministry said in a statement.
The Rhum gas field was contributing around four per cent to UK gas production in October 2010 . It started pumping gas in December 2005 and cost £350 million to build.
BP said it was too early to say when production at the field could restart. "We look forward to receiving final authorisation over the next few weeks, " a BP spokesman said.