Denmark-based petroleum and natural gas producer DONG Energy has announced the cutting of first steel for a new 15,000t production platform, for the Hejre oil and gas field in the central part of the North Sea.

The platform, which is currently under construction in a shipyard on the island of Geoje in South Korea, will be shipped to the Hejre field in 2015.

Designed by France-based engineering services firm Technip, the new platform will be built by South Korean shipyard DSME.

DONG Energy said its field engineers in Paris and South Korea will oversee the entire process of platform construction.

The Hejre platform, which will be fully operational in 2016, is expected to increase DONG Energy’s oil and gas production from the North Sea.

DONG said the field will play a vital role in its aim to double its oil and gas production from 2012 to 2020.

Located about 300km away from the Danish coast in License 5/98 at a water depth of 70m, the Hejre platform is estimated to contain reserves of around 170 million barrels of oil equivalent.

The extension of the field, which is estimated to cost DKK12.1bn ($2bn), is expected to create about 500 permanent jobs in Esbjerg, Fredericia and Copenhagen.

"DONG said the field will play a vital role in its aim to double its oil and gas production from 2012 to 2020."

DONG Energy oil and gas business executive vice president Søren Gath Hansen said: "Today’s celebration to mark the beginning of the construction of the Hejre platform is the culmination of several years of exploration and thorough analyses.

"In a few years from now, this work will lead to a significant, new Danish oil and gas field, which will boost Denmark’s production," Hansen added.

"The oil and gas are located in a reservoir at approximately six kilometres depth, where pressure and temperature are extremely high. It puts heavy demands on the entire construction to be able to handle the oil and gas under these conditions."

DONG Energy holds a 60% share in the Hejre licence as operator, while Bayerngas owns the remaining 40% as the partner.

Image: The Hejre oil and gas platform is in the central area of the North Sea.