Norwegian energy giant Equinor has announced the early start up of its Johan Sverdrup field alongside the announcement of a £4 billion share buy-back.
Equinor and its joint venture partners Lundin Petroleum, Petoro, Aker BP and Total, said they are speeding up the planned schedule for production start-up at Johan Sverdrup.
It will begin in October, one month ahead of schedule.
Equinor also announced a more than £4bn share buy-back, until the end of 2022.
It said the first tranche of the programme of around £1.2bn will be released today.
Eldar Saetre, president and chief executive of Equinor, said: “Equinor is committed to capital distribution to our shareholders. We have over the last years built a strong financial position with solid credit ratings and a net debt ratio around 20%.
“The upcoming start-up of the world-class Johan Sverdrup field, combined with several other new fields in production, provides additional confidence in our outlook for production growth and increased cash generation capacity.
“We are therefore in a good position to increase capital distribution, while continuing to invest in our high-quality project portfolio.”
The first phase of the Johan Sverdrup project was announced in 2015 and project will now see an acceleration in the start-up schedule of the development from late December 2019 to October 2019.
Anders Opedal, executive vice president for Technology, projects and drilling in Equinor, added: “Around this time last year, we accelerated the expected schedule for production start-up of Johan Sverdrup to November 2019.
“Now, as we enter the final stretch of the project, we believe it is possible to start production up to one month earlier.”