Yesterday at the SPE Offshore Europe 2013, Statoil ASA (ADR) (NYSE:STO)’s executive vice president for international development and production, Lars Christian Bacher, stated that Statoil has started the build-up of its Aberdeen operating organization and is on track with the Mariner field development project.

Statoil On Track With Mariner Field Development Project

Mariner field was discovered in 1981, 250 kilometers off Scotland’s north-east coast. It is a heavy oil field located in block 9/11 of the U.K. continental shelf and will start production in 2017.

Statoil challenged by Mariner field

Mariner field has presented a serious challenge to oil companies because of the high viscosity and likelihood of early water breakthrough in the field. According to Statoil ASA (ADR) (NYSE:STO), “the field consists of two relatively shallow reservoir intervals, Maureen and Heimdal, at depths between 1200-1500 meters below sea level. The reservoirs range in thickness from a few meters to up to 40 meters.”

The recoverable reserves are estimated to be 250–300 million barrels of oil. Mariner is expected to produce at a rate of 76,000 barrels per day (bblpd) with 55,000 bblpd being produced in the first decade. Mariner East is expected to produce up to 19,000 bblpd. It is also estimated that the field will have a reserve life of about 30 years.

Statoil ASA(ADR) (NYSE:STO) acquired the license of Mariner in 2007 with the aim of finally cashing in the reserved of Mariner. Statoil planned to overcome the field difficulties by digging a high number of horizontal wells equipped with special valves that can hold back gas and water but let the oil through.

Statoil building local organizations

“Statoil ASA (ADR) (NYSE:STO) has started the build-up of its local organization in Aberdeen and is planning to have a new operations centre in place by 2016. The project will lead to substantial job creation in the region with more than 700 long-term, full-time positions,” says Bacher.

Statoil ASA (ADR) (NYSE:STO) development plan is moving as per schedule and the major chunk of field contracts have already been awarded. “Contracts within operations and maintenance, drilling and well services, and business support will be tendered from 2013 to 2016,” says Bacher.

Statoil is also the operator for the Bressay heavy oil field on the U.K. continental shelf where expected recoverable oil volume is 200-300 million barrels. Statoil ASA (ADR) (NYSE:STO) stated that it plans to employ 1,200 new people to support its operations at Mariner and Bressay.

“We have chosen a stepwise approach starting with Mariner to ensure experience transfer and learning before we move forward with Bressay. The Bressay field’s reservoir characteristics make it even more challenging than Mariner. Our focus is now on making the required preparations for project decision and execution, including necessary preparations for authority approval,” says Bacher.