Oil firm Nexen said yesterday that it had received approval from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to develop the Solitaire oil field about 43 miles north-east of Aberdeen in the central North Sea.
The firm estimated the find would produce 8million barrels of oil, which it will process through its adjacent Golden Eagle development.
The development plan for Solitaire will comprise one production well with field installation expected to begin mid-2014 and first oil expected in 2015.
Canada-based Nexen, which is being bought by Chinese oil national CNOOC, is the operator of both Solitaire and Golden Eagle, with a 36.54% working interest in each.
The remaining interests in both developments are held by Maersk Oil North Sea 31.56%, Suncor Energy 26.69% and Edinburgh Oil and Gas 5.21%.
UK Energy Minister John Hayes said: “Because this smaller field is close to a large field such as Golden Eagle, it can make use of the extensive infrastructure already in place.
“It is also very pleasing to see that nearly all of this development’s spending will be UK-based.”
Archie Kennedy, managing director of Nexen Petroleum UK, said: “Our investment in the Solitaire field further reinforces Nexen’s long-term commitment to the UK North Sea.”
The company holds acreage around Golden Eagle that it will assess with ongoing exploration drilling.
Nexen, which also has operations in west Africa, the Gulf of Mexico and Western Canada, is one of the largest UK oil producers, primarily as a result of output from the Buzzard field. It employs about 2,000 full-time and contract staff at its offices in Uxbridge and Aberdeen and offshore.
CNOOC said last month it did not expect its £9.6billion takeover of Nexen to close until the first quarter of this year at the earliest.
CNOOC has already received approval for the deal from the UK and Canadian governments. It is still waiting for a decision from the US government because Nexen has assets in the Gulf of Mexico.