Statoil Picks Concept for $9.6 Billion U.K. Mariner Project

Statoil ASA, Norway’s biggest energy producer, selected a development concept for its $9.6 billion U.K. Mariner and Bressay fields project after earlier threatening to scrap plans because of new U.K. taxes.

The British authorities have “made some adjustments on rules for write-offs, which are advantageous to us and have neutralized the effect of the first proposal” for tax increases, Peter Mellbye, Statoil’s head of international development and production, said today in a telephone interview from Aberdeen.

The U.K. in March raised taxes on oil production profit to 62 percent from 50 percent to pay for a lower consumer levy on gasoline. Statoil responded by putting its development plans for Mariner and Bressay on hold and said it would be less likely to buy British assets. The company said today it expected to make an investment decision on Mariner by the end of 2012, with output starting in 2016.

Production is likely to be 70,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day for the Mariner heavy oil field, Mellbye said. Mariner and Bressay combined will produce about 110,000 barrels a day.

Statoil plans to develop Mariner with a production, drilling and quarter platform based on a steel jacket, with a floating storage unit, Mellbye said. The company has commissioned a pre-engineering study and contracts will start being awarded early in 2013, he said. A total of 145 reservoir targets for production or injection are planned for Mariner.

‘Interesting Area’

An investment decision for Bressay will be made in 2013, with output scheduled to start end of 2017, he said. The two U.K. fields have combined resources of about 600 million barrels, Mellbye said earlier this year.

“The U.K. is still an interesting area for us, so we’re working on developing our portfolio to the extent that we can,” Mellbye said. “We’ll look at the upcoming licensing rounds.”

Statoil is involved in exploration in about 21 licenses in the U.K. and employs 243 people in the country, according to its annual report.

Statoil is partner with Eni SpA and Nautical Petroleum Plc in the Mariner field, while Royal Dutch Shell Plc holds a stake in Bressay.

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