UK-based oil and gas exploration company GDF SUEZ E&P UK has agreed to sell 25% interest in the Austen oil field in the Central North Sea to E.ON E&P UK.

GDF SUEZ will hold 75% interest and continue to operate Austen (formerly called Jacqui field), which is situated in licence P.1823, Block 30/13b.

The partners plan to speed up the development of the Austen discoveries once the deal is approved by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Following a successful appraisal drilling in 2012, the field is moving into the concept selection stage, where the operator will weigh development and export options.

Located in the East Central Graben area, Austen is one of the major assets where GDF SUEZ E&P is the operator.

The company acquired the licence for the area, including the Austen discovery, during the 26th UK Offshore Licensing Round in 2011.

The field includes a gas condensate discovery and two oil discoveries, and still has several unappraised compartments.

"Located in the East Central Graben area, Austen is one of the major assets where GDF SUEZ E&P is the operator."

GDF SUEZ E&P UK managing director Jean-Claude Perdigues said: "Austen is one of our major exploration assets and we welcome E.ON E&P into the partnership as we enter this exciting new phase where we will make decisions on development plans and export routes.

"We enjoy a successful partnership with E.ON E&P in the Southern North Sea and this agreement advances our aim of being a successful development operator in the Central North Sea area."

In another development in May 2013, GDF SUEZ E&P UK, along with its partners Centrica Energy and Bayerngas, has cut the first steel for construction of the jackets on the Cygnus gas field project in the North Sea.

Image: Central North Sea location map showing the GDF SUEZ E&P UK-operated Austen field. Photo courtesy of GDF SUEZ E&P UK.