Wintershall and its partners Petoro and Centrica have received a consent from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) for the start-up of production of the NOK12bn ($1.46bn) Maria oil project in the Norwegian Sea.

The development of the Maria field is claimed to come on stream nearly a year ahead of the original schedule and also at reduced costs and marginally increased oil reserves.

As per the Plan for Development and Operations (PDO), the project was estimated to cost NOK15.7bn ($1.91bn).

Production start-up at the Maria field is expected to begin next month which otherwise was originally slated to begin in Q4 2018.

Norwegian Petroleum Directorate development and operations assistant director Kalmar Ildstad said: “The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is very satisfied with the development of the Maria project.

"With a total of four host facilities, the project is also a good example of the value creation generated from good collaboration with the licensees in surrounding infrastructure."

The Maria field is operated by German crude oil and natural gas producer Wintershall which holds a stake of 50% while Norwegian state-owned Petoro owns 30% stake and Centrica Resources (Norge) holds the remaining 20%.

Located in the Haltenbanken area on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the Maria field is 20km east of the Kristin field and around 45km south of the Heidrun field.

The offshore field has been developed using two seabed templates, each with four slots and linked through a subsea tieback to the production platforms Kristin, Heidrun and Åsgard B.

Wintershall and its partners have plans to drill four oil production wells and two water injection wells.

According to Wintershall estimates, the Maria field holds total recoverable reserves of 28.9 million standard cubic meters (Sm3) of oil to go along with 1.32 million tonnes NGL and 2.31 billion Sm3 gas. The field is likely to have a production lifetime of 22 years.

Image: Illustration of Maria oil project in the Norwegian Sea. Photo: courtesy of Wintershall.