The Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy has approved the final development and operation plan for the first phase of Statoil’s Johan Sverdrup field project offshore Norway.

The agency also approved associated plans for installation and operation (PIO) for transportation pipelines and power supply from shore.

Statoil Norway development and production executive vice-president Arne Sigve Nylund said: "The field is of great importance, and will generate substantial spin-offs and value for partners and society for more than 50 years."

Planned to be commence production in late 2019, the Phase 1 of the project involves four bridge-linked platforms as well as three subsea water injection templates. It is expected to have a gross production rate of between 315,000 and 380,000 barrels of oil per day.

The project will adapt advanced technology to increase oil recovery rate to 70% in future phases, the company said.

Recently Heerema Marine Contractors has installed the 280t pre-drilling template on the Johan Sverdrup field using its crane vessel, Thialf. Drilling operations are planned to start during the first half of 2016.

Statoil operates the Johan Sverdrup field with 40.02% stake, while other partners Lundin Norway, Maersk Oil, Petoro and Det norske oljeselskap have 22.6%, 8.44%, 17.36% and 11.57%, respectively.