Aug. 17 (UPI) -- The Norwegian government said it signed off on plans from energy company Statoil to start new drilling operations in the North Sea.
Norway is one of the largest oil and gas producing nations in the world and, apart from Russia, among the top energy exporters for the European economy.
The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said it gave its consent to two separate drilling plans submitted by Statoil for the North Sea.
Statoil contracted the Maersk Integrator mobile drilling rig to tap into a site at the Gina Krog oil and gas field. Drilling will extend for 25 days in the event of a discovery and start in September.
Statoil drilled its first well at the Gina Krog field in 2015 and estimated the total recoverable reserves at 225 million barrels of oil equivalent. Most of the reserves in the field exist as oil.
Elsewhere, the company will use the West Elara mobile facility to drill and complete production wells at the Valemon field in the North Sea. That field holds 192 million barrels of oil equivalent, though Statoil has characterized it as mostly a natural gas reservoir.
The company described Valemon, which went into production in 2015, as a "complex reservoir." Drilling will run for about 160 days and last through October.
About 754 million barrels of oil equivalents were produced offshore Norway as of last month, with most of that existing as oil. The total production so far is about 8.8 million barrels of oil equivalent higher than at this point last year