Premier Oil granted approval for Catcher development in North Sea
An oil and gas explorer has been given approval to develop a major North Sea field.
Premier Oil will drill 22 wells at the Catcher field, 100 miles off the coast of Aberdeen.
It is hoped the field could produce about 100m of barrels of oil, with first oil targeted for mid-2017.
London-based Premier said the development had been facilitated by oil field tax incentives introduced by the UK government.
News of the approval comes after Subsea 7 was awarded a £270m contract to build a 37-mile (59.9km) pipeline and associated facilities for the development.
Premier Oil chief executive Simon Lockett welcomed the decision by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to give the project the green light.
He said: "Having discovered Catcher in 2010, we are extremely pleased to have brought the Catcher area through the development approval process.
"Once on-stream this project, which has been facilitated by the government's small field allowances, will underpin our growing cash flows."
Minister of State for Energy Michael Fallon said: "The Catcher area development shows that there continues to be an extraordinary level of interest in North Sea oil and gas, which is excellent news for industry and for the whole of the UK.
"The project represents over £1bn of investment and almost all of the subsea expertise and equipment needed for this development is being supplied by British companies right across the country."
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "I warmly welcome this £1.5bn investment in the Catcher Area Development, and the jobs and supply chain opportunities it will bring.
"I will be meeting with Premier Oil next week to learn more about their plans for the future."
Premier holds a 50% interest in Catcher, with the other stakeholders being Cairn Energy (30%) and MOL Group (20%).
Last month, Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy struck a $575m (£343m) loan deal with French bank BNP Paribas to help the firm develop two North Sea fields, including Catcher.