The first oil has been pumped from the vast Catcher area in the North Sea, with production set to be ramped up in the new year.
Premier Oil said it had achieved the feat on the afternoon of 23 December. The £1 billion-plus Catcher project lies some 110 miles off the coast of Aberdeen.
Production will start off at some 10,000 barrels per day, ramping up to about 60,000 barrels in the first half of 2018. It will add 30,000 barrels, net, to Premier’s daily production.
Tony Durrant, the oil firm’s chief executive, said: “Delivery of first oil from the Catcher area represents a significant milestone for Premier.
“I congratulate and thank all our colleagues, partners, suppliers and regulators who have played such an important part in successfully delivering the project on schedule and almost 30 per cent under budget.
“As production ramps up in the first half of 2018, the increased cash flows will play an important role in Premier’s plans for debt reduction. The Catcher area project also demonstrates Premier’s continuing commitment to invest in the UK.”
Premier operates the Catcher area and owns a 50 per cent stake. Edinburgh-based oil explorer and producer Cairn Energy holds a 20 per cent stake.