The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change has approved Premier Oil’s development plan for the Catcher oil and gas field area in the North Sea.
Located in the UK Central North Sea, the area is estimated to produce 96 million barrels of oil equivalent with first oil planned for mid-2017.
The project includes the drilling of 22 subsea wells on the Catcher, Varadero and Burgman fields with a peak production rate of approximately 50,000bpd.
Tankers will be used to offload the oil while gas will be exported through the SEGAL facilities.
Premier Oil has already awarded all major service contracts for the project, which is currently in the execution phase.
The company operates the Catcher area with a 50% working interest, while Cairn Energy and Hungary’s MOL Group own 30% and 20% respectively.
Premier Oil CEO Simon Lockett said: "Having discovered Catcher in 2010, we are extremely pleased to have brought the Catcher area through the development approval process.
"Once on-stream, this project, which has been facilitated by the government’s small field allowances, will underpin our growing cash flows."
UK Minister of State for Energy 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.
"The project represents more than £1bn of investment and almost all of the subsea expertise and equipment needed for this development is being supplied by British companies right across the country."
The initial Catcher well, which was drilled in May 2010, found Cromarty reservoir with an estimated net oil pay of 27m.
Image: The Catcher project includes the drilling of 22 subsea wells on the Catcher, Varadero and Burgman fields. Photo: courtesy of Premier Oil.