Det norske oljeselskap has started its drilling programme at Ivar Aasen field in the Norwegian North Sea.

The three-year programme includes drilling 15 wells and three pilot wells. Pilot wells are initially being drilled for further mapping of the underground, with work expected to be completed by the summer of 2015.

Ivar Aasen drilling manager Inge Sundet said: "The three upcoming pilot wells are important to the licensees.

"The economic life of the field is expected to be 20 years, depending on oil price and production trends."

"They will enable us to retrieve important reservoir information at an earlier stage. This will create added value for the Ivar Aasen license."

Det norske contracted the Maersk Interceptor rig to undertake the drilling programme on Ivar Aasen for a period of five years, with an option for a further two years.

The Ivar Aasen field features three deposits that include Ivar Aasen, West Cable and Hanz. Located west of Johan Sverdrup field, Ivar Aasen features 210 million barrels of oil equivalents.

Production start-up is planned for the fourth quarter of 2016. The economic life of the field is expected to be 20 years, depending on oil price and production trends.

Det norske oljeselskap operates the Ivar Aasen development and holds a 34.7862% interest in the field. Statoil, Bayerngas, Wintershall, VNG, Lundin and OMV are also partners.