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Exxon Fast Track North Soa Development Greenlighted By British Government

On July 23, Exxon Corporation announced that the British government has approved plans for fast track development of the Curlew field in the Central North Sea. Use of a converted tanker as a Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) facility will allow the $450-million project to be brought on stream in record time. Exxon's U.K. affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production U.K., Ltd., holds a 50 percent interest in Curlew, which is located about 130 miles east of Aberdeen, Scotland. Shell U.K. Exploration and Production also owns a 50 percent interest and is the operator.

Total recoverable reserves are estimated to be about 125 million oil equivalent barrels, over half of which are liquids. The project will develop two oil and gas accumulations. First production from Curlew is expected in the fall of 1997, less than eighteen months from the award of the FPSO contract, and three years after discovery of the second accumulation. At its peak, oil production is projected at 45,000 barrels per day, and natural gas at 100 million standard cu.

ft. per day.

John H. Steele, managing director of Esso Exploration and Production U.K., said, "The Curlew development marks a significant step in the current phase of North Sea development. The project team has been able to make it commercially viable thanks to the innovative combination of an aggressive timetable, tight control of costs, and conversion of an existing tanker to an FPSO vessel. We are confident that the team will meet this challenging schedule while maintaining high quality and safety standards." The tanker to be converted is the 100,000-ton Maersk Dorset. Once completed, the Curlew FPSO will be able to store 560,000 barrels of oil. The FPSO will be leased from MAS Production Company, a subsidiary of Maersk Company Ltd. U.K., which has subcontracted the conversion work to several U.K. and European contractors. The Curlew FPSO will be the second for the Esso/Shell venture in the Central North Sea. The first is Anasuria, which is scheduled to begin producing in the Teal and Guillemot fields by the fourth quarter this year.

Oil from the Curlew field will be exported via shuttle tankers, while natural gas will be transported via a new tie-in to the existing Fulmar pipeline flowing to the St. Fergus terminal in Scotland.

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