Exxon and Statoil in joint Gulf of Mexico project

Exxon Mobil
Image caption Over the past decade ExxonMobil says it has drilled 36 deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico

ExxonMobil and Statoil have agreed to jointly develop an oil field in the Gulf of Mexico thought to contain six billion barrels of oil and gas.

The pair plan to spend $4bn (£2.57bn) to develop the Julia field, located 200 miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana.

Some 34,000 barrels of oil a day will be produced via a nearby floating production facility run by Chevron.

Exxon and Statoil each own 50% of the field, which they say has a 40-year life span.

The Julia field, discovered in 2007, will take about three years to develop, and production is expected to begin in 2016, the US and Norwegian companies said in a statement.

The initial development phase includes six production wells tied to Chevron's Jack and St. Malo production facility located approximately 15 miles away.

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