Government permission has been given for development of Premier Oil's Catcher oil field that will bring over £2Bn of investment to the North Sea over the next few years, creating up to 1,000 construction jobs during the building phase and boosting UK sector oil output by 6%.
About £1Bn of the total investment will be made before the start of production at Catcher in 2017. The development will involve creating 14 sub sea wells and eight water injecting wells that will bring production over the field's projected ten year life to a maximum of 50,000 barrels a day. Estimates suggest there could be 100 million barrels of oil at Catcher.
The field is in the Central North Sea Block 28/9, some 180 kilometres east of Aberdeen in water depth of around 90 metres, and is one of the most significant North Sea discoveries of recent years. Operator Premier Oil holds a 50% stake in the development, with Wintershall holding 20%, Nautical 15%, and Cairn Energy 15%.
Premier awarded a major EPIC contract valued at over £270 million to Subsea 7 last month for project management, engineering, procurement, construction, fabrication and installation of Catcher's subsea facilities. Engineering and project management will be undertaken at Subsea 7's Aberdeen office with fabrication at Wick and Leith. The contract also includes a 60 kilometre pipeline and associated facilities.
Premier says revenues from its North Sea projects will be a key part of its financing of the development of the Sea Lion oil discovery off the Falkland Islands.
News that the development is going ahead is seen as a success for the UK's recently introduced small field tax incentives.
Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: "The Catcher area development shows that there continues to be an extraordinary level of interest in North Sea oil and gas, which is excellent news for industry and for the whole of the UK.”