OSLO, Norway (AP) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil ASA says it has received approval from the British government to develop the Mariner heavy oil field, the U.K.'s largest new offshore development in more than a decade.
Statoil says it expects production to last 30 years starting in 2017, with an estimated initial daily output of 55,000 barrels.
CEO Helge Lund said Friday that the North Sea is Statoil's "core area" and it welcomed "taking a leading role in further developing also the U.K. part of this basin."
Staoil expects to invest $7 billion in the Mariner field. It says it has developed a leading position in heavy oil extraction that requires special equipment because of its viscosity. The company will open an operations center in Aberdeen, expecting to create 700 full-time jobs.
Canada’s Ivanhoe Energy and floating specialist SBM Offshore have formed a global strategic alliance on equipping floating production storage and offloading (FPSOs) vessels with heavy-oil upgrading facilities.
Dubbed floating production, upgrading, storage and offloading vessels (FPUSOs), the units would join Ivanhoe Energy’s proprietary heavy-to-light (HTL) process with the Dutch contractor’s floating vessels.
Ivanhoe Energy chief technology officer Michael Silverman said that the two companies had been working on the concept for the past two years.
The pair and AMEC Engineering have created a concept design for an FPUSO that would be capable of upgrading up to 60,000 barrels per day.
The HTL process aims to offer an economical way to upgrade offshore heavy oil resources by reducing the viscosity of the crude to raise its sale value to refineries and reduce operating costs.
The two companies said they were “exploring a number of potential business models and applications” for the FPUSO concept.
They commented that the increasing size of the FPSO market presented offered “another important avenue to commercialize the HTL process in the near term”.
Calgary-based Ivanhoe Energy says its test feedstock facility in San Antonio, Texas has successfully processed oil using the technology, and the explorer plans to install a HTL facility at its domestic Tamarack development.
It has also agreed with Ecuador to develop heavy oil resources at block 20 using the same technology.