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Statoil to develop heavy oil field offshore UK

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February 15, 2013 12:14 PM EST | AP

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OSLO, Norway — Norwegian energy company Statoil ASA says it has received approval from the British government to develop the Mariner heavy oil field, the U.K.'s largest new offshore development in more than a decade.

Statoil says it expects production to last 30 years starting in 2017, with an estimated initial daily output of 55,000 barrels.

CEO Helge Lund said Friday that the North Sea is Statoil's "core area" and it welcomed "taking a leading role in further developing also the U.K. part of this basin."

Staoil expects to invest $7 billion in the Mariner field. It says it has developed a leading position in heavy oil extraction that requires special equipment because of its viscosity. The company will open an operations center in Aberdeen, expecting to create 700 full-time jobs.